Leader’s Speech to People of Paveh

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on October 17, 2011 by Ayatollah Khamenei the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in a meeting with the people of Paveh in Kermanshah province.

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 our Master and Prophet, Ab-al-Qassem Al-Mustafa Muhammad, and upon his immaculate companions and infallible household and upon those who follow them well until the Day of Judgment.

I am truly thankful to Allah the Exalted who gave me another opportunity to be present among the enthusiastic, kind and chosen people of this region after so many years. I am very happy to be among you enthusiastic and sincere people of Paveh and the dear people who took the trouble to come here from Javanrood, Ravansar and Salas-e Babajani. This warm, sincere and friendly meeting will definitely be an unforgettable memory for me, just as my previous memories of Paveh are unforgettable.

It is not bad to share this memory with you dear youth of Paveh: the first time I met a group of people from Paveh was in the Revolutionary Council during the first months after the victory of the Islamic Revolution. I was a member of the Revolutionary Council. I saw a few friendly and handsome youth stepping into the Revolutionary Council in their Kurdish costumes. They wanted an urgent appointment. I arranged a meeting with those enthusiastic youth. They said that in Paveh and Oraman anti-revolutionaries were planning to carry out a military attack against revolutionary elements and give them a hard time. They asked for help so that they could stand up against the anti-revolutionaries. This was during the first few months of the Revolution. Perhaps nobody could imagine that faithful, courageous and selfless youth from a Kurdish region would be prepared to shoulder the burden of defending the city and the Oraman region. Their only demand was that governmental organizations - which were very few in number at that time and were faced with many problems and limitations - should help them and provide them with a few weapons.

Afterwards, this region gained advantages and prominence in defending the country against anti-revolutionaries. Before the imposed war broke out, the youth of this region came together to form a military unit under the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps in Paveh and the Oraman region. And the Islamic Revolution's Guards Corps helped them defend this region. These towering mountains and this uneven terrain were humbled by the determination and courage of the youth of this region. It was the people themselves who decided to stand up against anti-revolutionaries before our governmental organizations took action.

Before the military stage of the war, a political battle was going on in this region. That is to say, in the first month of the year 1358 - namely, a couple of months after the victory of the Islamic Revolution when a referendum was held for the people to vote for and against the Islamic Republic - anti-revolutionaries boycotted the referendum in this region and other regions. But against the will of the anti-revolutionaries, the people of Paveh were among the people who had the most enthusiastic presence in the referendum of the year 1358. Then, it was time for military resistance.

During the war, in the year 1360, I travelled to Paveh. It was difficult times. One could see that the enemy was trying to cause insecurity in this region. It was the first month of spring and the streets were covered with snow. We climbed up the mountains. My companions insisted that it was insecure there and that we had to return. At that time the mountains around the city were insecure. In such conditions the people and faithful youth of Paveh stood up and resisted and they managed to maintain this outstanding position for themselves. The entire region was like this. I am speaking about Paveh simply because it was an important center, otherwise the entire county - which consisted of Ravansar, Javanrood, Salas-e Babajani and other small areas - was involved in this great movement. Of course, Paveh was the pivot and the center.

Religious faith has been among the characteristics of these people. Paveh has two characteristics that make it praiseworthy. One characteristic is religious faith and commitment to religious knowledge and to the principles of religion and sharia. The second characteristic is being intellectual. As far as I know and on the basis of the reports I have received, the youth of this region are intellectual. An important part of these advantages are because of the scholarly and mujahid man, Mamousta Ghaderi. He is a cleric who is both scholarly and intellectual. Such a cleric is very beneficial to communities of people at this stage and at all sensitive historical junctures, a cleric who is able to identify and understand issues with awareness and insight and he is also prepared to step into the arena. A cleric who stands by and tells the people to go ahead and take action will not get people anywhere. A successful cleric would step into the arena and tell the people to follow him. He would not tell the people to go ahead and take the lead. A cleric should be present in the arena. He should take the lead and be a man of action. Fortunately we have seen many such people among the clergy of Kurdish regions. Those who are hostile to our people because of our piety, those who are hostile to our people because of our revolutionary nature, those who are opposed to our people because of our love for our dear homeland - those evil enemies are opposed to such clerics more than anybody else. They are opposed to the clerics who are present in the arena, who are prepared for self-sacrifice, who act like a beacon of guidance. Today when I take a look at the city of Paveh and the Oraman region, I see that people are highly educated and knowledgeable. I see that the youth are educated, aware and pious. This is a very great advantage that this region enjoys and I am thankful to God for this.

Of course, the problems which were mentioned are real problems. I have been informed of the problems. One of my concerns is the issue of unemployment in this province, which I discussed in the public address in Kermanshah and in the meeting with government officials. God willing, I will arrange another meeting with our government officials in Tehran and I will discuss this issue in the meeting so that effective decisions are made and at least part of this concern is eliminated. This province has a lot of potential for employment and there is no shortage of such potential in this county either. By Allah's favor, if an effective measure is taken, it is possible to create jobs for a major portion of these young and educated people who are prepared to work.

What is important is to safeguard the collective identity of a nation or a community of people, no matter what the name is. The Iranian-Islamic identity of our people is an established reality thanks to the Islamic Revolution and thanks to the presence of the people on the scene and their involvement in the essential issues of the Islamic system. Today the Iranian nation is known in the world for its Islamic faith that is accompanied by awareness, insight, pioneering actions and progress in different areas. This is not something that can be ignored. The Iranian nation can play a role, especially now that Islamic movements have started in the world of Islam.

Of course, we do not claim leadership of these nations. We do not ask them to follow us and learn from us. Not at all. We do not have any such claims. Every nation will find its path and follow it by relying on its own talent, characteristics and capabilities. But there is no doubt that in these awakened and saved countries - such as Egypt, Tunisia and other places and even the countries in which imposed and satanic governments are still in power but in which the people have awakened - the people have an eye to the Iranian nation. This is because our nation has proven its high potential in difficult arenas over the past thirty years. They are watching us. We can be a standard of credibility for all those who are watching the Iranian nation in these countries.

When we combine our commitment to Islam and Islamic ideals with rationality, scientific progress, presence in different areas of knowledge and social and political issues, we turn into a role model. Then other nations look at us and make use of our experiences. This is what will benefit the Iranian nation and the regional nations. And by Allah's favor, it will prove beneficial for establishing a great and unified Islamic Ummah in the future.

Of course, this method has its own enemies. The thought that we cherish and speak about is the same thought that has occurred to our enemies as well. The enemies of the Islamic Republic, the enemies of Islam, the enemies of the regional nations who are after looting, attacking and taking advantage of the regional nations and interfering in their affairs - these enemies have also realized that if the Iranian nation can present itself as a standard by relying on its advances, its scientific progress, its technological progress and its powerful diplomatic presence, other nations will follow it. Therefore, they want to prevent this from happening. They want to foment discord.

Religious differences, the Shia-Sunni issue and other such issues have been one of the tools that has always been used by the enemies of Muslim nations to foment discord. They use this tool to create conflicts. They use it to foment discord. They turn brothers against one another. They magnify the differences and brush aside the common areas and unifying factors. They magnify insignificant things. They undermine all the things that Shia and Sunni brothers share. These are the kinds of things that they have always been doing.

The Islamic Republic has stood up against this plot since the first day and the reason is that we do not take anybody's interests into consideration: this is our belief. Before the Islamic Republic had been established, our brothers, the luminaries of the movement and the luminaries of the revolutionary battle of those days were making efforts to create unity between Shia and Sunni Muslims at a time when Islamic government and the Islamic Republic were not even discussed. I myself had been exiled to Baluchestan. Since those days I have been friends with Hanafi Sunni scholars of the cities of Baluchestan - Iranshahr, Chabahar, Saravan and Zahedan. I have been in contact with the ones who are still alive and we are close friends. I was living in exile there and governmental organizations would not let us engage in any activities. But we decided to do something to exhibit a sign of Shia-Sunni unity in the city. The idea of Unity Week - the birthday anniversary of the Holy Prophet (s.w.a.) which is on the 12th of Rabi al-Awwal according to Sunni scholars and the 17th of Rabi al-Awwal according to Shia scholars - came into our mind and we implemented in Iranshahr: we celebrated from 12th to 17th of Rabi al-Awwal. This was a deep thought and it is not a recent innovation.

Muslims should consider their situation and see on what basis their unity has been built. Is it just a verbal agreement or is it built on a truth? Well, we see that our collective religious knowledge is the same. Our monotheism is the same. Our conception of returning to God is the same. Our conception of prophethood is the same. Our daily prayers and fasting are the same. Our hajj is the same. Our enemies are the same. Our goals, ideals and interests are intertwined. How can Muslim nations - Shia or Sunni - be separate from one another? The enemy wants to impose this on us. Therefore, since the first day the Islamic Republic has stood by its Palestinian brothers. This is while as far as I know, there are either no Shia Muslims in Palestine or there are very few of them. Our Palestinian brothers used to consider our country as their own home. They still have the same feeling: they come and go. No other Islamic country with different denominational composition has ever treated Palestinians so sincerely and kindly free of charge. The enemy can see this. Therefore, he does not want this to happen. He does not want the Islamic Ummah to become unified.

Fortunately we managed to foil this plot in Islamic Iran. Shia and Sunni Muslims made efforts in our country. One effective dimension of this glory and greatness is you Shafi'i Kurdish people in this region. You showed this unity. You showed this purity and sincerity. You punched the enemy in the mouth. This was a very important thing.

I insist that throughout the country - both in the areas where Sunni and Shia Muslims live together and in the areas that are only inhabited by Shia or Sunni Muslims - everybody should act in a way that the enemy realizes he cannot foment discord among Islamic denominations in this country under religious pretexts. Otherwise, if the enemies succeed, you should know that they will not limit themselves to these things. If, God forbid, the enemies manage to separate Shia from Sunni, they will go after Sunni Muslims. If they realize that Sunni Muslims are united, they will try to foment discord among them as well. Some Sunni people are Shafi'i, some are Hanafi and some others are Maliki. Some Sunni Muslims follow a certain school of Usul and some others follow a different school. The enemy will not give up.

The only way to succeed is to refuse to retreat even a single step against the enemy, otherwise the enemy will be emboldened to attack and transgress. The Islamic Republic is proud of the fact that it has not retreated a single step against the enemy over the past 32 years. We did not retreat in spite of the fact that there was a lot of pressure. There was military pressure. There was security pressure. There was the pressure of sanctions. There was political pressure. There was propaganda pressure. But we did not retreat. I would tell you dear brothers and sisters and the aware and intellectual youth of this region that in the future the Iranian nation and government officials will not retreat a single step against the enemy's efforts to blackmail and pressure.

May God bless the souls of those brave people who used to live in this region. May God bless Shahid Chamran, Shahid Keshvari and Shahid Shiroudi who used to fly over this region. May God bless martyrs such as Shahid Naser Kazemi and other young martyrs who used to live in this region. Before my speech, a few brothers were introduced to the audience as children of our martyrs. The children of our martyrs have blossomed today. May God bless them and the mothers who brought them up. God bless their teachers.

I would like to stress that the kind of religious and cultural awareness that evidently exists in Paveh today should be continued and promoted: religious awareness, historical awareness, Islamic awareness and insight into realities of our society. The Iranian nation showed patience. You exercised patience. You resisted. You passed on your resistance from generation to generation. And today these efforts have produced results and the Islamic Ummah has awakened. The arrogant powers should not think that they can break the chain of these uprisings and this Islamic Awakening in the region. They cannot at all extinguish the flames. There is no doubt that this wave of awakening will continue and that a better future is awaiting these people.

I would like to thank you again. I would like to thank the esteemed audience and the officials of this region and other regions of Kermanshah. I visited Gilan-e Gharb a few days ago. I praised the people of Gilan-e Gharb, Eslamabad and Ghasr-e Shirin. I also deem it necessary to thank the people of Sarpol Zahab who made a lot of sacrifices. I have repeatedly visited the Abuzar military base. The kind of help that the people offered and the kind of resistance that the people of that region and the entire Kermanshah province put up are very valuable and important. By Allah's favor, just as the effects have played a role in training a new generation of people in this region, they will also play a role in bringing about increasing advances for this region.

I hope our esteemed officials find the opportunity to eliminate the problems of this region, especially Paveh and Oraman areas and we can create hope for a better future for you dear people, especially the dear youth of this region. I pray to God to protect you and to bestow success on you.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings