Ayatollah Khamenei

Shias and Sunnis stand side by side in the Islamic Republic of Iran: Ayatollah Khamenei

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on February 5, 2018, by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, during a meeting with officials of the Martyrs of Sistan and Baluchistan Commemoration Congress. The Congress of Commemoration was held on February 13, 2018.


Commemorating our dear and self-sacrificing martyrs is one of many good deeds, which has, thankfully, become more common at the present time. The fact that, in different provinces, martyrs are described as great and magnificent personalities, and the fact that they are venerated, is an extremely beneficial and necessary obligation. However, in some centers and provinces of the country, there is a quality which makes this good deed increase in value. One of these centers is Sistan and Baluchistan province.

It is very interesting for me to witness that a number of outstanding personalities, from various social backgrounds in Sistan and Baluchistan and the honorable officials from that province, gather together in commemoration of the martyrs of Sistan and Baluchistan – which is an underprivileged province – and express their respect for them (the martyrs): this is very interesting, and it is extremely honorable.

The attraction that this issue has for me results from several factors. One is my own interest in this province. A while ago, I used to spend time in Sistan and Baluchistan. Of course, I did not stay there for a long time. However, Allah the Exalted developed things in a way that my relationship with this province and with its people turned into a long-lasting relationship. This was the work of God because I did not stay there for a long time. At that time, Iranshahr was so interesting to me that I wrote a testament specifying that I should be buried in Iranshahr, should I die during that trip. I insisted that my body should not be taken out of Iranshahr. I also visited the graveyard in that city – the one in Iranshahr – but it was not meant to be.

The people of Baluchistan are a people with great kindness. They are a warm, friendly, pleasant, and, of course, talented people. Talent is abundant in that city. However, throughout the course of history –during the time of Qajar or during the time of Pahlavi, those long years – that area and its people have been oppressed; and they have been shown little attention. During the time when I was there, I established a close relationship with the people: I used to communicate with them.

At during those days, not even one official would set foot in Iranshahr, which is, in fact, the political and geographical center of Baluchistan. Another example, one can refer to, is Saravan: it is considered the scientific and spiritual center of Baluchistan. However, not even one official – for example, a governor – had stepped foot in this city. Well, after the Revolution, presidents, officials, and everyone else visited that province: they traveled to all those cities; they even visited villages. There is a wide gap between now and then.

In those days, the people used to be treated with indifference: issues of Baluchistan were catered to indifferently. The talents of the people did not reveal themselves: they did not have the opportunity to do so. The same is true of Sistan. The people of Sistan are a people who are unique among all Iranian ethnicities in terms of their historical background. The history of Sistan is an extraordinarily outstanding and brilliant history. So, the same is true of that area. That area, too, had been subject to lack of attention and indifference: this indifference has been accompanied by natural disasters as well.

What one would feel upon meeting the people of that province was the need for affection: and Allah the Exalted put this affection in our hearts and into the hearts of officials. Presently, many tasks have been carried out for the region of Sistan and Baluchistan. All tasks that the Governor pointed out are necessary tasks; however, I advise him to avoid being satisfied with simply explaining these things to me during this meeting: this is because I am not the executor of tasks. The executors are government officials – be that on issues of the railway system, the process of desalination, or many other issues: You should pursue these matters on your own; you should go and seriously ask high-ranking executive officials to pursue these matters.

And they should know how to do so [pursue matters]: if there is really a way – which there is – they will know it. You should investigate the necessary tasks that must be carried out in the province. For example, regarding an issue of Iranshahr--whose problems I was more familiar with--why should the Baluchi weaving close down and fall into ruin? Why? This is an issue which I used to follow at that time, and it began to work; but, later on, it was ignored: you should set out and resolve these matters.

You should set out and find individuals in the private sector, so much so that they undertake these tasks. Moreover, they should benefit from the National Development Fund – the National Development Fund belongs to the private sector. There is nothing wrong with this: you should set out and pursue these matters. One of the reasons why I became happy with your gathering for martyrs is that I am interested in this province and its people. My interest is not illogical rather it is one based on logic and reasoning: and it is not that I only had a casual relationship with the people; there is a good reason behind my interest in this province.

The second issue is that this province is the manifestation of our motto of Islamic unity. There are some areas in the country – for example, Kurdistan, Turkmen-Sahra in Golestan province, and Sistan-Baluchistan province – in which Sunni and Shia live together. We want to teach and say to the world that Muslim brothers can cooperate and live side by side: an example is Sistan and Baluchistan; as it happens, the enemy has focused on this area. He has pointed his finger at this area and he wants to create discord. When you come and say that an eleven or twelve-year-old boy, in Shalamcheh, has been martyred for defending the Islamic Republic: this is the greatest piece of news on unity and solidarity between Shia and Sunni in Sistan and Baluchistan; this is not a minor event, rather this is a very important event.

When a certain Sunni follower is attacked by anti-revolutionary forces while defending the Islamic Republic: you should underline and highlight these events. We have had such events in Sistan and Baluchistan. It is very important for you to exhibit the true and real unity among this province: you should reveal this to the people. And, the way to do so is to carry out the tasks that the honorable Sardar pointed out; you should produce various cultural tasks; which include writing books, memoirs, and other such cultural products – for example, using visual and audio art and other such artistic forms.

You should benefit from all these methods, in order to portray the reality, so that everyone sees that in the Islamic Republic Shia and Sunni brothers cooperate during the most difficult situations. I have made some trips to Baluchistan, and I have visited many cities – for example, Zahedan, Iranshahr, Khash, Saravan, Chabahar, Zabol and many other different cities. When you go to these cities, you feel that the people are friendly towards the Islamic Republic, in the real sense of the word: you clearly feel this welcome there. Well, such displays of kindness show themselves most clearly in the arena of war and self-sacrifice. 

Martyrs should be commemorated. This country and this system need to remember our dear martyrs. All of us need this. It is with the names and memory of martyrs that the glories produced by the Islamic Republic show themselves. The Islamic Republic is a system that has resisted and stood up against the modern jahiliyyah [ignorance] system over the course of many centuries.  That is why modern jahiliyyah has engaged in a display of enmity towards it, with all its instruments: with military weapons, with cultural weapons, with the instrument of sanctions and with other newly-emerged instruments. This is the new jahiliyyah – this well-established and comprehensive falsehood which, unfortunately, exists in the world – has used all sorts of tools against the Islamic Republic.

Everyone has risen against the Islamic Republic, but they have failed to defeat it. They have failed to force it into retreat. They have failed to make the Islamic Republic take back what it has said. They have failed to make it say, "I take back what I have said” and “I forgot about this demand." They have failed to do so. Why have they failed? Because the Islamic Republic is very strong. What is the reason for its strength? Its strength comes from faith and resistance. When we reach this point, you see that this very important chain ends with martyrs, disabled war veterans, and self-sacrificing and altruistic individuals. The chain ends with such brave individuals.

What has caused the Islamic Republic to, thankfully, preserve its glory within the world, to display its capabilities on a daily basis, and to prevent all these plots and schemes from exerting their impact is the self-sacrifices of the people. The reason is the firm faith of the people, the martyrs are the best and clearest manifestation of this faith.

And you are commemorating and respecting martyrs, and you are keeping their names and memory alive! We need this! The Islamic Republic needs this commemoration and respect for martyrs. So, your work is valuable work. It is completely honest and necessary work.

Everyone should cooperate. There is no difference between Shia and Sunni and between scholars and non-scholars, in this regard. People from various classes of society and all those who can help should cooperate on this subject. They should preserve, underline, and highlight the memory of these dear ones.

Of course, I used to know some of the well-known martyrs of Sistan and Baluchistan; and I have read the biographies of others in memoirs, books, and other literature. However, we do not know all these martyrs, all these outstanding personalities, and particularly teenage martyrs -- twelve, fourteen-year-old teenagers. We are not aware of the circumstances that they had experienced. You should introduce them so that everyone can begin to know them. I hope that Allah will make all of you successful, God willing.


Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy