Leader’s Public Address in Mashhad

The following is the full text of a public address delivered on March 21, 2011 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution at Imam Ridha's shrine in the holy city of Mashhad. In this speech the Leader referred to the developments in Bahrain and said that the issue of Bahrain is not a Shia-Sunni issue.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings upon the Holy Prophet, the most noble descendant of Adam, our Master and Prophet, Ab-al-Qassem Al-Mustafa Muhammad, and upon his immaculate and infallible household, especially the one remaining with Allah on earth.

I am thankful to Allah the Exalted who gave me an opportunity to have this valuable experience again: being present at Ali ibn Musa ar-Ridha's shrine - may our souls be sacrificed for his sake and God's greetings be upon him. I would like to congratulate all the dear brothers and sisters who have attended this great and impressive meeting on the auspicious occasion of Norouz and the beginning of the new year. The people who have gathered here are in fact a sample of the Iranian people. On the first day of the year, our dear people travel to the holy shrine of Imam Ali ibn Musa ar-Ridha from nearby and distant cities and towns of the country in order benefit from the blessedness of this holy place. Our dear brothers from the city of Mashhad are also present in this impressive gathering. I extend my greetings and congratulations to all of you.

The Iranian New Year is a valuable opportunity for all Iranian people and for all Muslims who celebrate Norouz to contribute to the Islamic movement. This is the characteristic of Islam: all opportunities, all moments and all stages of life should be utilized to bring about perfection and spiritual and material progress for humanity. We Iranians can use this occasion to move towards what Islam has demanded from us and towards Islamic teachings and Islamic ahkaam [Islamic rules extracted from religious texts through Islamic jurisprudence]. This is an opportunity for us to become familiar with the lofty goals of Islam. Visiting one's relatives, paying attention to Allah the Exalted, learning good things from one another, gathering in religious and spiritual centers - these are valuable opportunities that we should benefit from.

The fact is that for many years, especially during the rule of the Islamic system, the honorable people of our country have used Norouz as an opportunity to engage in spirituality and to get closer to Allah the Exalted. If you pay attention, you will notice that during the first few hours of the new year most people gather in religious centers and holy places to pray. The meaning of this significant move is that the Iranian nation uses this traditional occasion for religious purposes. We should follow this prominent example in all affairs, and we should use Norouz to increase our knowledge, spirituality and piety and to practice Islamic ahkaam, Islamic teachings and Islamic ethics. I hope Allah the Exalted will make all of us successful in this regard.

Today I will take this opportunity to speak about three issues. First I will present a brief report of the year 1389: I will consider the issue from a broad perspective and explain the orientation of the Iranian nation and officials in the year 1389. Then I will speak about the new year, which starts from today. I will speak about this year's slogan - namely, "Economic Jihad" - and the appropriate measures that should be taken. In the third part of my speech I will speak about the regional issues: the issues of the Middle East, North Africa and the events that are happening in this Islamic region. I will discuss these issues in the light of the hypocrisy and plots of the enemies of the Islamic Ummah.

Regarding the first issue, I can say that last year's slogan - namely, "Intensified Effort and Labor" - was observed throughout the year. Our people managed to make intensified efforts in different areas. Of course intensified effort and labor reveal their effects in the long term, but it is possible to see the signs of intensified effort and labor when you take a brief look at the year 1389, what the government officials did and how our dear people cooperated with their officials. The signs are clearly visible in many areas.

Let us start with science and technology. At the beginning of the year 1389 I found the opportunity to visit an important industrial center of the country. During the last few days of the year I found another opportunity to visit a technology exhibition, and I saw the long-term results of the year-long movement with my own eyes. In the area of advanced science and technology, I would tell you that what we have achieved in the country is far more than what the people know about. A prominent scientific movement started in different areas several years ago, and fortunately this movement has gained further momentum on a daily basis.

Once I quoted an infallible Imam (a.s.), saying, "Knowledge is grandeur." It means that knowledge is a source of power for nations and individuals. "Anyone who gains this power can rule and anyone who does not will be ruled." Those who have knowledge win the upper hand, and those who fail to acquire knowledge will have to be dominated by others. This is a characteristic of knowledge and technology. Today the country is clearly moving towards obtaining knowledge in many areas, especially in newly-established and highly advanced fields. Fortunately one can see that our scientists and youth are making accelerated progress in different areas - in biotechnology, in aerospace technology, in nanotechnology, in stem cell research, in producing crucial radiopharmaceuticals, in producing antineoplastic drugs, in producing wind turbines which decrease the country's dependence on oil to a large extent, in building supercomputers which are extremely important for the country, in technologies related to new sources of energy. All of these achievements require advanced knowledge. As I said last night in my New Year address, the reports prepared by prestigious international centers show that in this area our country is moving forward faster than many countries in the world. These reports show that the pace of our progress is several times more than the average rate of progress in the world.

There are 2, 3 important points about scientific and technological progress which I would like to discuss now. The first point is that most of the scientists who are doing these things are young. The average age of the scientists who are involved in these endeavors is 35. That is to say, they are mostly young, and it is necessary to trust these youth. Of course there are also experienced and faithful professors who are involved in these scientific endeavors, and this is very valuable.

The next point is that those who do these impressive things have a lot of self-confidence, and this self-confidence is the main asset. Manpower is the main asset, and this is what our country enjoys. Our youth are making progress in this arena with high morale, and they believe that they can do anything, anything for which the country has the necessary infrastructures.

The next point regarding the issue of scientific progress is that the chain of science, technology, production and commercializing the products is in the process of being established. And this chain is very important. That is to say, we produce knowledge, turn it into technology, develop products, market the products through international trade and produce wealth for the country. We do not produce knowledge just to have a good feeling about our progress in scientific areas. No, this knowledge brings about wealth for the country and benefits all people. This is the way in which production of knowledge contributes to national wealth and addresses the needs of the people. The effects of intensified effort and labor are clearly visible in scientific areas.

The next area in which the signs of intensified effort and labor are clearly visible is economic areas. Redistributing subsidies, which was a quantum leap for the country, was one example of economic endeavors. Our dear people should know that all economic experts - both the experts who agree with the economic views of the current administration and the experts whose economic views are different from the views of the current administration - unanimously agree that redistributing subsidies is necessary, essential and very constructive. This was among the things that was demanded from previous administrations. Entering this arena was very difficult, and the ground was not fully prepared. Thankfully this work has already been initiated. To be fair, the cooperation between the government and the people was excellent. The people offered excellent cooperation when practicing the Subsidy Redistribution Law. The effects of this policy will gradually become clear in the future, although some of the positive effects have already revealed themselves. The primary goal of the law is to distribute subsidies in a fair way. The government distributes subsidies among the people. Previously the larger portion of these subsidies would go to wealthy people and those who consumed more energy. And those had less money and consumed less energy would receive a smaller share of the subsidies. The purpose of the subsidy redistribution policy is to distribute state subsidies in a fair way so that everybody receives an equal share. This is a great leap towards establishing social justice.

Managing the consumption of the country's resources - especially water and energy resources - is the second goal. I named the 1387 as "The Year of Reforming the Norms of Consumption" meaning being economical and avoiding waste. The Subsidy Redistribution Law is one of the ways in which we can truly reform the norms of consumption. Some positive effects of the law have already been noticed. Energy consumption has been reduced during the few months that the Subsidy Redistribution Law has been practiced, and this is beneficial to the country. Wasteful use of bread and flour - which are great divine blessings and a lot of efforts go into producing them - has been reduced. Consumption has been balanced in this regard. This is among the benefits we have already obtained. Of course, by Allah's favor, there will be many other benefits in the future, and reforming the economic structure is among these benefits.

The increase in non-oil exports was another sign of intensified effort and labor in the economic arena. Unfortunately our country has depended on oil exports since decades ago. All economists who care about our country reject this policy, but we have been used to this state of affairs. It is wrong to export oil and use the money to manage the country. Many years ago I said that one of my wishes is that one day we will be able to run the country without exporting even one single drop of oil. This has not happened so far. Of course it is very difficult to do this. Increasing our non-oil exports helps us move closer to this goal, and this is already happening. A great leap was made in this regard in the year 1389.

Confronting the sanctions in an intelligent and firm manner is one of the things that shows intensified effort and labor in the economic arena. These sanctions were imposed on us by the west - led by America - and unfortunately some European governments blindly followed America in this regard. Since the beginning of year 1389 they have been trying to intensify their sanctions on Iran. According to their calculations, the Islamic Republic and the Iranian nation should have been brought to their knees in 5-6 months. This was what they thought. Through the sanctions they wanted to make life so difficult for the Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic that the people would protest against the Islamic Republic. This was their goal. A clever and firm policy was adopted against these sanctions, and the sword of the enemy became blunt. The enemy did not manage to achieve its goals through these sanctions. Fortunately the officials managed to leave this situation behind through strenuous efforts. Today westerners admit that imposing sanctions on Iran is no longer effective.

They said that they would impose gasoline sanctions. This has been one of our problems over the past years. Our country is an oil exporter, but we used to import huge amounts of gasoline, which is produced from oil. They said that this was the weakness of the Islamic Republic and that they would block gasoline imports. Before they had a chance to take action, our government officials started to prepare the ground for producing gasoline. Thus, our dear homeland became self-sufficient in gasoline. Thanks to their sanctions, we became self-sufficient in gasoline. Thanks to their sanctions, our government officials started to think of a way to produce gasoline, and their efforts helped our country become self-sufficient in gasoline. I heard similar things from some of the young scientists at the technology exhibition which I visited last month. They told me, "We wanted to build a machine, and we went abroad to buy the required parts, but they told us that they would not sell them to us because of the sanctions, so we realized that we had to manufacture the required parts as well. We came back and tried to produce those parts, and we succeeded to do so without the help of foreigners." This is the clever approach. Both our people and our government officials approached the sanctions of the enemy in this way. That is to say, they deprived the enemy of his most effective tools. What you did was like disarming the enemy in a battle. This was another instance of intensified effort.

Good achievements have been made regarding the issue of employment. According to government reports, 1.6 million job opportunities were created in the year 1389. If this report is accurate, the number is half a million more than the expected job opportunities. Good achievements have also been made in such areas as housing projects, construction of highways and road systems, and electronic services - all of which are related to the infrastructures of the country. These are the economic achievements.

Many achievements have been made in other areas as well, but I will not discuss them for lack of time. In any case, thankfully it is clear that the year 1389 was truly "The Year of Intensified Effort and Labor". Of course the year 1389 does not have any special significance in itself. This year, next year and the following years will all be "The Year of Intensified Effort and Labor". The Iranian nation and its officials should make intensified efforts all the time so that we can achieve the position that the Iranian nation deserves.

Now I would like to speak about this year's slogan and the things that should be done. Of course there are important areas all of which are a priority. For example, transforming the bureaucratic system is necessary. Transforming the education system is also a fundamental necessity. The position of the humanities in universities and in research and educational centers is essential. The issues related to the culture and ethics of our society are important. However, experts believe that at this point in time economic issues are more important and more urgent than all other issues of the country. If our country manages to make jihad-like efforts in economic areas and if the big leap that has been made is coupled with other leaps, this will undoubtedly produce great results for the country, for our progress and for the grandeur of the Iranian nation.

In this regard the important criterion is the accelerated economic growth which has been specified in the fifth development plan - a growth of at least 8 percent. Productivity should be a large portion of this growth. That is to say, we should be able to utilize the country's facilities in a better way. In my speech on the first day of the year 1388, I made a few points about the issue of extravagance and the problems that exist in the area of productivity. The people should know these things. I recommend that our government officials speak to the people about the importance of increasing the share of productivity in total economic growth of the country. They should tell the people how important it is to increase the share of productivity in economic growth of the country and how important it is to decrease the difference between the income of the poor and the rich. Such differences are not favorable to us. Islam does not approve of such differences. They should try to do these things according to the fifth development plan.

Decreasing the unemployment rate is among the crucial issues of the country. Increasing private investments and helping the private sector to invest in economic projects of the country are also among the crucial issues. In this regard one of the important things that can be done is to establish cooperatives. Cooperatives can accumulate great capital and invest in important economic projects of the country. They can help resolve important problems. It is necessary to prepare the legal requirements in this regard. This means supporting the blossoming of labor.

As for economy in the use of essential resources, especially water resources, today 90 percent of our water resources are being used up by the agricultural sector. Just consider what will happen if the government succeeds in reforming the methods of irrigation and reduces this amount by only 10 percent. We only use 10 percent of our water resources for all other purposes - including household and industrial purposes. Imagine will happen if we spend 10 percent less water in the agricultural sector. In fact we will have twice as much water for non-agricultural sectors, which is very important.

The direct involvement of the people in economic matters is something necessary. This depends on providing the necessary economic information, which is a responsibility of our government officials. And I hope this process will speed up on a daily basis. Of course our media should play a role. They can raise public awareness. The government should also be active in this regard so that it can manage economic matters.

If we want this great economic movement to take place in our country in the year 1390, certain requirements should be met. I would like to briefly mention these requirements. First of all, it is necessary to have the spirit of jihad. Since the beginning of the Revolution up until now, our people have been successful whenever they have entered the arena with the spirit of jihad. We saw this during the Sacred Defense and during reconstruction of the country. Currently we can see the same thing in the scientific movement of the country. If we maintain this spirit of jihad in different areas - that is to say, if we do our duty for the sake of God in a tireless and serious manner - this movement will undoubtedly continue.

The second requirement is to strengthen spirituality and the spirit of religious faith in society. Dear people, everybody should know that piety in our society and among our youth will help our nation in worldly matters as well. It is wrong to think that piety among the youth reveals its effects only during itikaf in mosques or when reciting Dua Kumeyl. If the youth enjoy piety, they will stay away from intemperance and addiction to drugs. They will start utilizing their talents and making efforts. They will make progress in scientific, social and political areas. The same is true of economy. The spirit of piety and spirituality plays a very important role.

The next requirement is that the country should not be distracted by side issues. Most of the time there is a central issue in the country which should be the focus of everybody's efforts. But suddenly we see some people bring a side issue into focus. This is analogous to the situation of a caravan that is on an important mission and is moving through a desert towards its destination, but suddenly something unimportant attracts the attention of the caravan in one part of the desert and it stops moving forward. Side issues should not be brought into focus. Fortunately our people can think critically. They are vigilant. They can distinguish side issues from primary issues. Care should be taken not to let side issues be the focus of public attention.

Preserving unity and national solidarity is another requirement. It is necessary to maintain and strengthen the unity that exists among and between the people and government officials. The people love their government officials. They trust their officials. They help their officials. They cooperate with their officials. There is unity among the people. One of the big plots of the enemies of the Iranian nation is to foment discord inside the country under ethnic, religious, political and partisan pretexts. It is necessary to preserve unity. Fortunately our nation is vigilant. All those who care about the country and religious democracy - which is a source of pride for the Iranian nation - should cooperate in a harmonious manner. Government officials should do the same. If they have issues with one another, they should try to avoid making these issues public because this would be detrimental to our national unity. Everybody should pay attention to this point. I seriously warn our government officials about this issue. Our government officials may have issues with one another - this has always been the case. As a person who has been involved in such issues, I have been witness to such disagreements since the beginning of the Revolution. Sometimes the executive branch had issues with the legislative branch. Other times the legislative branch had issues with the judiciary. Yet other times the judiciary had issues with the executive branch. It is natural for government officials to have issues with one another, and sometimes their complaints may be legitimate, but they should not make their issues public. They should not disturb the mental and emotional peace of the people. They should not disappoint the people. They should resolve their issues among themselves. It is possible to negotiate a solution to the most important issues of the world, let alone such trivial issues. Therefore, it is important to have unity and harmony among the three branches of the government.

Of course there is an important point which I should stress. Sometimes after I announce a slogan at the beginning of the year, I see placards hanging everywhere - in Tehran and other cities of the country - with the slogan written on them. This is useless. Measures that are sometimes adopted are expensive, yet unnecessary. What I expect from government officials and from our dear people is that they should listen to these slogans and try to practice them. It is totally unnecessary to produce a large number of placards and posters and to put them up everywhere. Such things are unnecessary if they do not cost any money. And if they cost money, then they are problematic. In this regard there is no need to do something that is expensive.

Of course the central importance of economic matters does not mean that we should ignore other areas. It is necessary to pay attention to other areas as well, especially science and technology, and to help and trust our young scientists so that they can make great achievements.

As for the regional issues, the recent events which have happened in the region - in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Bahrain - are very important. A fundamental change is taking place in this Islamic and Arab region. This is a sign of Islamic Awakening. The same thing which has been shouted as a slogan in the Islamic Republic for decades is revealing itself in the context of these countries.

These developments have two characteristics: one is the presence of the people, and other is the religious orientation of these movements. These are two essential characteristics. The physical presence of the people - this is what happened in the Islamic Revolution. Parties, people who live in their ivory towers and political analysts could not do anything. The art of our magnanimous Imam was that he managed to encourage the people to enter the arena. When the people entered the arena with their body and soul, insoluble problems were resolved and dead ends were eliminated. Today the same thing is happening in other countries. In Egypt and Tunisia it was the people who entered the arena, otherwise intellectuals and those who live in ivory towers were always there and they were talking all along. They often called on the people to protest, but nobody would listen to them. This time it was the people who entered the arena with a religious orientation. Friday prayers, congregational prayers, Name of God, religious scholars, promoters of religion, founders of new schools of religious thought in certain countries - these were the elements that encouraged the people to step in. This is a characteristic of these events.

Why did the people step into the arena? Obviously their dignity was the factor that caused them to enter the arena. The oppressive rulers in Egypt, Tunisia and other countries had hurt the pride of the people. For example, the people of Egypt had to see the leader of their country commit the worst and most hideous crimes for Israel. If Hosni Mubarak had not cooperated with Israel in the case of the siege on Gaza, Israel could not have pressured the people of Gaza like that. Israel could not have committed those crimes without his help. But Hosni Mubarak stepped in and helped Israel to block the way to Gaza. Then they realized that the people of Gaza had dug tunnels under the ground. In order to stop the oppressed people of Gaza from using these tunnels, they built steel walls around them which ran 30 meters below the surface and cut through the tunnels. It was Hosni Mubarak who did this. The people of Egypt were watching these things, and this was why their pride was hurt.

Similar things happened in other countries as well. For example, Gadhafi showed an anti-western attitude during the first few years of his rule, but he has rendered great services to the west during the recent years. The people of Libya saw that a simple threat was enough to make Gadhafi load all the nuclear facilities of his country onto a ship and tell westerners to take them away. Just compare the situation of our nation with the Libyan nation. Our nation saw that the entire world, led by America, was protesting against Iran's nuclear program. They imposed sanctions on us. They threatened us with military attacks. They threatened that they would attack our country. Not only did our government officials not retreat, but they also increased our nuclear facilities by several times each year against the wish of the enemy. In Libya the people saw their government officials get rid of all their nuclear facilities in the face of western threats, or what they call "western incentives". Just the way you give a lollipop to a child, westerners gave "incentives" to them and they gave up everything. The Libyan people saw this happening, which filled their hearts with sorrow and hurt their pride. The same thing can be seen in all the countries whose people have revolted against their governments.

What was America's position? This is important to us. Initially the Americans were astonished by these events. They could not analyze the situation. They did not understand what was happening. They could not believe it. After these events took place, they adopted contradictory positions because they did not have an appropriate understanding of the events and because they did not know the people. Of course in the case of these and other countries, America's support for dictators is a point which has been constantly noticed about America's behavior. They supported Hosni Mubarak as long as they could. Then they realized that it was not possible to keep him in power, so they threw him away. This is a lesson to the leaders of other countries who are dependent on America. They should know that when they become useless to America, the Americans will ignore them and will throw them away like an old cloth. But they supported and defended the dictator until the last moment.

What happened was truly intolerable to America and the west. Egypt is one of the main pillars of America's Middle Eastern policies. They were relying on Egypt. They did not succeed in preserving this pillar. The people defeated them. Then the Americans tried to preserve the structure of the Egyptian regime. These are instances of America's hypocrisy and plots: deceitful and evil, but at the same time superficial. If nations stay vigilant, they can easily expose America's hypocrisy and foil its plots. After losing Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia, the Americans tried to preserve the structure of their regimes. They tried to let government officials be replaced but preserve the structure of the regimes. Therefore, they insisted that a prime minister should assume power in those countries. But the nations continued their uprising and foiled this plot. They overthrew those governments as well. By Allah's favor, America's failures will continue in the region.

After they lost their agents in these countries, they took two courses of action. One was opportunism, and the other was simulation. Through opportunism they tried to hijack these revolutions. The plot was to deceive the people. They expressed their support for the people and at the same time they tried to put their own supporters in positions of power. They were unsuccessful in this regard. Simulation was the second plot - that is to say, they tried to simulate the events of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and certain other countries in Iran, the country that enjoys religious democracy and a populist government. They deployed their agents inside the country: truly weak and ignoble individuals who are easily influenced by human passions. They were planning to simulate a hopeless and grotesque movement in the country. But the Iranian nation kicked them in the mouth. [People shout "death to hypocrites"] The real hypocrite is America. What they are doing is true hypocrisy: they claim to support nations. They are hypocritical about Egypt. They say they support the Egyptian people.

Our dear people should know that America's President has sent a message to the Iranian nation, saying that he supports them. They claim that they are opposed to dictatorship and that they support the rights of nations. They are lying. Not only do they not show mercy to other nations, but they also show no mercy to their own people. In spite of America's critical economic situation, the current US President spent hundreds of billions of dollars from the tax paid by US citizens in order to keep banks, arms companies and oil industries going. That is to say, he is spending the money that belongs to the American people on American companies and banks. Therefore, they do not even show mercy to their own people. Today the American nation is struggling with the widespread economic crisis, and it does not have a solution. The torture centers of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and other torture centers are another issue. They do not understand nations. Does the current US President know what he is saying? Does he really understand who are behind his policies, or is he unaware and confused? We do not know the answer to these questions. He says that the people who had gathered at Tehran's Azadi Square are like the people at Egypt's Tahrir Square. He is right: each year on the 22nd of Bahman, the people of Iran gather at Azadi Square and shout "death to America".

The position of the Islamic Republic on the regional issues is clear. We seek to defend nations and their rights. We support Muslim nations and oppressed nations in different parts of the world. We are opposed to bullies, arrogant powers, dictators, evil individuals, hegemonic powers and plunders, no matter where they are. This is the position of the Iranian nation and the position of the Islamic system. This is the clear position adopted by the Islamic Republic. These are the policies. These are what the hearts, minds and tongues of our people and government officials say.

There are two things which are worthy of attention. One is the issue of Libya, and the other is the issue of Bahrain. Regarding the Libyan issue we utterly condemn the behavior of the Libyan government - killing and pressuring the people, dropping bombs on cities and killing civilians. But we also utterly condemn the interference of America and westerners in Libya. They claim that they want to enter Libya or carry out military operations to defend the people. This is not at all acceptable. It is one month that the people of Libya are being bombed. If you truly support the Libyan people, if you really care about the Libyan people, you should help them. You should provide them with weapons. You should give them the facilities they need. You should provide them with anti-aircraft weapons. Instead of doing these things, they stood by and watched the people being killed for one month. Now they want to step in. Therefore, you have not come to defend the people. You are after Libya's oil. You want to establish a foothold in Libya. You want to use Libya as a foothold in order to monitor the future revolutionary governments of Egypt and Tunisia, which are located on the east and west of Libya. Your intention is evil. We do not agree with the action taken by westerners, who are led by America. The United Nations, which should serve the interests of nations, has unfortunately turned into a tool in the hands of these people. It just provides what they need. This is a disgrace for the United Nations. Therefore, the presence of foreign powers and westerners in Libya is totally unacceptable. If they want to help the people of Libya, the door is open: they can help and equip the people, and the people will settle their issues with Gadhafi and others. Why do you enter Libya?

In terms of its nature the issue of Bahrain is essentially the same as the issues of other regional countries. That is to say, the issue of Bahrain is not at all different from the issue of Egypt and Tunisia. It is all about a nation whose government ignores its rights. What is the goal of the popular uprising of the Bahraini people? Their main demand is that there should be elections in which each person can have one vote. Is this too much to expect? In Bahrain there is a superficial democratic façade, but the Bahraini people cannot really vote. They are being oppressed. Westerners took this opportunity to interfere in the affairs of the regional countries by bringing up a new issue: the Shia-Sunni issue. Just because the poor people of Bahrain happen to be Shia, nobody in the world should support them. The TV channels that used to cover the details of the regional issues should now be silent about the events in Bahrain. They should not reflect the killing of the people of Bahrain. And then some people in Persian Gulf States - whether politicians or journalists - start talking nonsense, saying that the issue of Bahrain is a Shia-Sunni war. What Shia-Sunni war? It is the protest of a nation against the oppression that is being imposed on it, just like what happened in Tunisia and Egypt and just like what is happening in Libya and Yemen: there is no difference.

The Americans would be happy to use their propaganda machines in the region and pass off the issue of Bahrain as a Shia-Sunni conflict. They would be happy to both block the support that is offered to the oppressed Bahraini people and to change the nature of issues and promote them. They ask why Iran is supporting the people of Bahrain. Well, we support everybody. We have been supporting the Palestinian people for 32 years. Which country, which government and which nation has offered support to the Palestinian nation during the past 32 years? Are the Palestinian people Shia? Our people made a lot of efforts regarding the issue of Gaza. Once our youth went to the airport, prepared to go to Gaza. They wanted to go to Gaza and fight Israel. They thought they could do so, but they would not let them in. We told them not to go. We stopped them because we did not want them to get blocked outside the borders of Gaza. There was no chance they would let anybody in. Our people expressed their emotions in the case of Gaza, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia and other places. But they were not Shia. Therefore, this is not a Shia-Sunni issue. They are making spiteful and malevolent efforts to present the issue of Bahrain as a Shia-Sunni issue. Unfortunately some people who do not have any evil motives fell into this trap. If there are benevolent people involved in this issue, I would like to tell them, "Do not make this a Shia-Sunni issue." This would be the greatest service to America. This would be the greatest service to the enemies of the Islamic Ummah who are trying to present the anti-tyranny movement of a nation as a Shia-Sunni Conflict. This is not a Shia-Sunni conflict.

We do not distinguish between Gaza, Palestine, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen. Oppression against nations should be condemned everywhere. We approve of national movements that shout Islamic slogans and seek freedom. After the tanks of the Saudi government were deployed in the streets of Manama in Bahrain, the Americans showed how shameless they are when they announced that they do not consider the Saudi involvement in Bahrain as foreign interference. But when our marja taqlids, religious scholars and benevolent people tell them not to kill the people, they accuse us of interference. Is this interference? When we tell an oppressive regime not to kill its own people, they call this interference, but when a foreign government deploys its tanks in the streets of Bahrain, they say they do not consider it foreign interference! Such moves, such statements and such propaganda show how shameless the Americans and their regional subordinates are. Of course we believe that the Saudi government made a mistake. It should not have done this. It will only become hated in the region. The Americans are thousands of kilometers away from this region. Being hated in the region may not be very important to them. But the Saudis are living in this region. If nations of the region hate them, they will have to pay a huge price. They made a mistake, and anybody else who follows them will make the same mistake.

I say with clarity that, by Allah's favor, a new movement has started in the region. This movement is a popular movement. It is the movement of the Islamic Ummah. It is the movement which shouts Islamic slogans. It is a movement towards Islamic goals. The movement shows that nations have awakened. According to the divine promise, this movement will definitely achieve victory. The Iranian nation feels proud and happy about being the first to tread this path and remaining steadfast. Our young generation did not see the Revolution, but they are not less steadfast - if not more so - than the revolutionaries of that time.

Dear God, by the blessedness of Muhammad (s.w.a.) and his household, protect our dear youth. Dear God, bestow Your mercy and blessings on our dear nation. Dear God, increase the honor of those who serve this nation, this movement, Islam and Muslims. Dear God, make the holy heart of the Imam of the Age satisfied with us. Dear God, by the blessedness of Muhammad (s.w.a.) and his household, make the immaculate souls of our martyrs and the pure soul of our magnanimous Imam satisfied with us. Bestow on us of the grace and blessings that You bestowed on them.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings