Imam Khamenei

Cultural Attacks By the Enemy Are More Dangerous than Military Attacks

The following is the full text of the speech delivered on March 6, 2017 by Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution, in a meeting with the officials of Rahian-e Noor.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

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

Dear brothers, dear sisters, Sardars, signs of the Sacred Defense Era, warriors, enthusiastic youth and you samples of the prominence of the Iranian people- you are welcome! The people of Iran should appreciate the value of you – whether the youth who stepped on this path and who familiarized their hearts with the truth or the veterans and experienced individuals who have explored these arenas, who have accomplished great tasks, who continue to render services today and most of whom are waiting for martyrdom. These are the progeny of the people and the people appreciate their value. Officials and those who are in charge of the affairs of the country should appreciate the value of these individuals and these statements.

First of all, I would like to thank the organization in charge of Rahian-e Noor affairs. Major General Baqiri mentioned that a group of managers, activists, and guides are present at this organization. I thank all of you. This is a great, important and influential task.

One point is that we should not let the memory of great days be consigned to oblivion. The great days of every country and every nation are days during which a divine event has occurred through and by the people: “Teach them to remember the days of God” [The Holy Quran, 14: 5]. In the Holy Quran, Allah the Exalted orders His Messenger to remind the people of the days of God. We should not allow these events to be consigned to oblivion. The Holy Quran teaches us valuable lessons. It has been mentioned in the Holy Quran: “Also mention in the Book the story of Ibrahim” [The Holy Quran, 19: 41], “Also mention in the Book the story of Musa” [The Holy Quran, 19: 51], “Also mention in the Book the story of Idris” [The Holy Quran, 19: 56], and “Also mention in the Book the story of Maryam” [The Holy Quran, 19: 16].

We should not allow these events to be forgotten. The Holy Quran teaches us to remember and to repeat these events. Notice how many times the stories of Hazrat Musa (as), Hazrat Ibrahim (as) and other stories have been repeated. These things should be remembered and we should not allow them to be consigned to oblivion. Of course, we are witness to certain efforts in this regard. I am very optimistic about Major General Baqiri and I trust him very much. He said that they have carried out these tasks or that they are in the process of carrying them out.

These tasks are of two kinds. Some of these tasks are organizational and systematic tasks. Very well, we establish an organization and association for these tasks. This is a good task. And some of these tasks are orientational and executive tasks. Executive tasks will not be accomplished by establishing and launching. Such tasks should be watched all the time. First, we should take care to move the task forward, second we should do so correctly lest it be deviated and third, there should be improvement and progress in carrying it out so that it will not turn into a monotonous task.

The saying “A person who spends two days in a similar fashion has suffered a great loss” [Speaking in Arabic] holds completely true in this case. It means that if we carry out our present-day tasks in the same way that we did them yesterday, we have surely suffered a loss. Today, we must take a step further compared to yesterday and we should do this better than yesterday. This is the reason why I constantly and emphatically say to different managers in military, executive, judiciary and other areas that they should look at the whole of the human line – from the beginning to the end of it – that stands behind them so that they can watch and exercise supervision.

First of all, the task should continue. Sometimes, we begin a task, but then in the process of doing it, we forget that we have undertaken it, that we have issued an order to carry it out and that we are supposed to do it. Therefore, the task will be forgotten. Sometimes, the task is not forgotten. It continues to be done, but in a wrong manner. We have sometimes witnessed that the task begins in a correct manner, but it will be finished in a wrong way. This holds true for cultural and economic tasks and for tasks related to various managerial affairs.

At first, such tasks are launched in a satisfactory way, but they deviate somewhere in the process. In the beginning, when the deviation emerges, we do not feel it because it is small. But the more it continues, the wider the deviation becomes. And there are some tasks which do not deviate from the correct path, but they continue in a routine and monotonous manner. When we look at them today, we see that they are being carried out in the same way that they used to be carried out five, ten, twenty years ago. We witness no progress and improvement in them.

And improvement and progress do not appear with words and with statistics. We should witness the results in the field. We should clearly see what is being done. I strongly request that the organization in charge of this affair pay attention that this is a great task. I would like to explain this briefly.

Dear brothers, dear sisters, notice that every country has a source of wealth. Some countries enjoy climatic resources of wealth, some enjoy geographical resources, some have underground resources, some have human resources – intelligent and outstanding individuals – some have oil, some have intelligence without money, and some have money without intelligence. We have such nations in the world. The strong point of every country should be dear and respectable to them and they should protect them. We have many strong points. We have many strong points in natural areas. Of course, I do not want to mention them in this meeting. We have lands, we have underground and above-ground resources, we have manpower, we have intelligence, we have everything.

But one of our most valuable sources of wealth is our cultural wealth. We have cultural wealth. What is cultural wealth? For example, willingness for and belief in jihad is an example of cultural wealth. When you search among the people of Iran, you will see that except for a few, the majority of the people are motivated to move on the path of religion. Of course, there are different degrees: small and large. Some people are only motivated to chant slogans in favor of the country, the ideals of the Revolution and Islam when they are in front of the cameras. Very well, this is very good because this motivation exists. Some people are a little more motivated. And some individuals are so motivated that they are prepared to lay down their lives. This feeling of seeking, cherishing and believing in jihad is a source of cultural wealth. This exists in our country while it does not exist in many countries.  

Before the Revolution, whenever our revolutionary activists faced, for example, Marxist fighters – whether in collective or in individual discussions and whether inside or outside prison- I always said this to my close companions- I used to say to them that the difference between us and them was that we had God while they did not. In the corner of a prison cell, while being tortured, under excruciating circumstances, we had a refuge, we had a God, we sought refuge in Him, we sought help from Him. Even if He did not wish to help us there, at least we were happy with the thought that He was watching us and that He was witness to the fact that we were suffering for Him. However, those poor Marxists did not have this.

I used to say that as long as those unbelievers are under the influence of enthusiasm, excitement and hot feelings, they move forward. However, if that excitement, enthusiasm and feelings are taken away from them for one moment and if they think about themselves for one moment, they will realize that they are doing a futile task. They say to themselves, “should I be killed so that others stay alive? Should I be killed so that such and such a person attains money and lives a comfortable life? Why?” The characteristic of faith is that it keeps alive the feeling of jihad and the desire for it in individuals. This is a cultural value in itself. It is a great cultural value. This is one cultural value.

Another cultural value is belief in resistance in the face of bullies. Believing that we will surely achieve victory in the end if we show resistance is a cultural value and a source of cultural wealth. If we want to count our sources of cultural wealth, we can prepare a long list of these values and cultural treasures that belong to us and that give us power. If we keep these values alive and if we remember the ones that have been consigned to oblivion – for example, in the revolutionary era, the ones which had been forgotten were brought to the arena again – then great tasks will be accomplished, as is the case in the past 30-plus years.

You youth did not see the pre-revolutionary and taghuti era. We saw it. In those days, if someone had said that it would be possible to launch a movement in order to help religion become dominant in the country and that someone like Imam (r.a.) would be in charge of the affairs, every average, ordinary and sensible individual would certainly have said that such a thing would be improbable and completely impossible. Such individuals would not have had any doubt to say this. This was because circumstances were like this, but this happened in the end.

The imposed war and the issue of the Sacred Defense Era is an example of these events. Let me say something in parenthesis here: the imposed war broke out because the enemy felt weakness in us. If the Ba’athist enemy and its provokers had not been confident that they would arrive in Tehran in a few days – they were thinking like this – this war would not have broken out. They felt weakness in us. Your weakness encourages the enemy to attack you. This is a general rule. If you want to dissuade the enemy from attacking you, you should try not to speak about your weaknesses. I am not saying that we should lie by saying that we are strong, rather I am saying that we should display our strong points. We have many strong points. Therefore, we should display them. The same is true of the area of the economy. The same is true of the area of culture. 

The grave mistake that some of us made in the great economic challenge that the country is faced with today – today, we are faced with an economic challenge – was that we spoke about our weakness in the area of the economy. The enemy saw that this is the area through which he could pressure us. And that is why they intensified their pressure in a way that they asked someone in an interview, “The Iranians might become upset at the military maneuver that you are carrying out in such and such a place because they are negotiating with you and this might damage your economic negotiations with them.” They wanted to prompt him to say without any feeling of shame, “These things will not affect the situation and that the Iranians need these negotiations so desperately that such maneuvers will not damage our economic negotiations with them.” This feeling of weakness should not be expressed in the face of the enemy.

Well, during the time of war, the enemy felt weakness in us and therefore, he attacked. But were we really weak or not? In the arena of action, yes, we were weak. Our Armed forces were dispersed and in a chaotic condition. They did not have organized management, much of our equipment was useless and we did not know how to use them. One, two years after the war, we discovered some of the things that were kept in our warehouses. It was only then that we discovered that we could use them. We did not have experience of war either. In the taghuti era, only a few theatrical maneuvers had been launched through which the troops entered Iraq from one part of the border and left it a few kilometers away from the borderline. We did not have experience of war.

Our only experience of war was limited to World War II during which time, the taghuti ruler of the time asked his commander, “How long can our armed forces resist the enemy?” and the commander answered, “Sir, they can resist for two hours, sir.” Then, the Shah became unhappy. He was Reza Khan anyway. He became unhappy. Later on, when they departed, someone said to the commander, “You should have said it in a way that he would not become unhappy. You should have said it better. You should have used sweeter words.” The commander answered, “I used sweet words. When I said, ‘two hours’ it was sweet because they can only resist for ten minutes. However, I said, ‘two hours.’” This was our experience of war.

The war began like this. In his first steps, the enemy advanced up to 10, 12 kilometers away from Ahwaz. The enemy’s 60 mortars could strike the suburbs of Ahwaz. Things were like this. They easily passed through Naderi Bridge in Dezful and entered the other side of the Dezful River. Dezful, Ahwaz and other important cities of Khuzestan were in danger of being captured. In his first attack, the enemy entered the arena like this. We were in such conditions.

Later on, our Muslim and revolutionary forces collected themselves with the warning of our magnanimous Imam (r.a.) – who was a great divine sign: he was the real “Grand Ayatollah”! The Islamic Republic of Iran Army, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and Basij did so in different ways. Our forces collected themselves and utilized their resources. They began to use the power that was hidden in them and that had not been discovered before that. This power was not only related to fighting, showing courage and entering the arena. This was only one of their powers. They also displayed the power to manage, to innovate, to take the initiative in their hands and other such powers. That was how they changed the scene of the war.

The war began in the year 1359 – with the same losses that I mentioned – but in Farvardin [beginning] of the year 1361, our forces captured several thousand Iraqis during Operation Fath-ul-Mubin. Notice the difference! In the course of one and a half years, the progress of our pious and revolutionary forces developed in a way that retreat to areas close to Ahwaz and Dezful turned into an operation like Operation Fath-ul-Mubin during which about 10, 12 thousand individuals from the enemy were taken captive! One example of the days of God is really the days of the imposed war and the Sacred Defense Era. We should keep this alive because it is a source of wealth.

Some people think that the war should not be mentioned or if it is mentioned, it should be condemned. These people are wrong! They hold meetings on the subject of war achievements and war literature, but they recite anti-war poems in those meetings. They are making a mistake. They are like individuals who burn and destroy the precious manuscripts - unique hand-written texts which have remained from the past - of a nation. They are like individuals who extract a country’s oil and pour it into the sea in order to destroy it. They are like individuals who destroy national sources of wealth- sources that can build history and the future- whose remembrance is like the remembrance of “Teach them to remember the days of God” because they can build the country in the present time and in the future. 

These individuals produce anti-war films and books. We should be careful about this. They are confusing two separate issues. One issue is whether war in itself is a good thing or a bad thing. Well, it is clear that war is a cruel phenomenon. War involves killing, destroying and injuring. This is clear. This is one issue. Another issue is about the things that will happen if a people who are being attacked from all sides do not bring their strength and power to the arena and if they do not stand up against the enemy. They confuse this issue with that. The Sacred Defense was a vital movement. It was like breathing for the people. If we had not breathed, we would have died! This should be kept alive.

Therefore, the memories of the eight-year Defense Era are a great source of national wealth. These memories are so large in number and so diverse, meaningful and expressive that no eloquent tongue – let alone for mine which is flawed – can appreciate all of them. The reason is this: although 30 years have passed from the end of the war, they are still writing books about it. When I myself – who was present there, and who was witness to and aware of many of those events – read those books, I learn a great number of new things! We can know about various personalities, issues and lessons by reading these books.

The quotation that the gentleman in the meeting ascribed to me is not mine. It is a Hamedani soldier’s [a quotation from the book “When the Moonlight Was Lost” by Shahid Chitsazian]. He said that if you want to pass through barbed wire, you should first pass through the barbed wire of your own self [Supreme Leader and audience cry]. When we are entangled with our selves, we cannot accomplish anything! This was taught to us by them. This was taught to us by that 20, 25-year-old youth. We learned this from them. This is a great source of wealth.

Well, if you want to use your wealth, you should have the technology for it. I say that Rahian-e Noor is a technology. This is a technology for using this great source of wealth. The large gold mine that is available to us can either be abandoned or be sold to others cheaply – like many of our mines which are unfortunately given to foreigners without creating value-added from them. Another thing that we can do is to create value-added for them with technology. Rahian-e Noor is a technology. It is a great movement. The value of this should be appreciated very much. Rahian-e Noor is a great and important task. You should try to carry out this task properly.

Thankfully, it has been carried out properly until today, but this is not enough. As I mentioned before, the continuation of the path is not enough. The continuation of the path should be accompanied by increasing progress. Every time and every year, there should be more advantages and more achievements. Today, we are faced with enemies who are using the most advanced equipment and a great deal of money against us. We might not have that amount of money or that number of weapons – they have atomic bombs while we do not – but we have something that they do not. That is our culture. That is our faith. That is our efficient and skilled manpower. We have these things and therefore, they should be used. Who should use them? All bases and foundations of the country should use them. When we say that Rahian-e Noor is a new technology for utilizing the infinite mine of the Sacred Defense Era, this means that the entire country should use it and appreciate its value.

Rahian-e Noor should find its way in our books, in our art, in our secondary and primary schools and in our universities. University and executive officials are present here. They should consider themselves responsible towards this matter. If we establish a center for these matters so that everyone can join it – for example, a student goes there to register his name – the task is not only this. This requires more work. You should look at it as a treasure. You should look at it as a great profitable and lucrative mine. You should see what you can do about this. There should be hard work, there should be thinking and there should be planning for this.

Those who go on Rahian-e Noor trips and return after that should learn certain things. There should be an unbreakable bond between them and the important event of Sacred Defense. They should gain new understanding and acquire new knowledge. In my opinion, we have not worked enough on these areas in the course of these years. We have worked little. Of course, many books have been written and many films have been produced in this regard. These are good. The tasks that have been carried out until today are good and valuable, but in my opinion, they are few compared to what should be done. The books that we read and benefit from are good, but they are limited in scope. The scope of their influence is limited.

They say that five, six hundred thousand copies of such and such a best-selling book have been published. Is six hundred thousand enough in such a large country? Even if we assume that ten individuals read every copy of the book, it becomes five, six million. In our eighty-million society, if five million people read a book and get familiar with it, is this enough? Such books should be promoted. Both books and their concepts should be promoted. They should be presented in the form of art. They should be included in school materials. Also, we should include matters related to Sacred Defense in university curricula. We should not allow this issue to be forgotten so easily.

Every disabled war veteran who has remained from the Sacred Defense Era is a sign. We should commemorate these reminders of the Sacred Defense Era. We should commemorate the Sardars of the Sacred Defense Era. Of course, they should appreciate their own value as well. They should protect themselves and preserve those values. This path will succeed and move forward only with resistance.

If we do cultural work and manufacture cultural products in the area of Sacred Defense, this production will enrich the country. It will enrich and strengthen our human resources with the result that they will become strong in the face of the enemies’ plots. If we wish to have forces for the economy, these forces should be strong. If we wish to have forces for culture, these forces should be strong. If we wish to have good forces for the managerial issues of the country, they should be strong. It is culture that strengthens humans and that builds strong individuals. Cultural strength originates from the generous wellspring of Sacred Defense forces. If we manage to benefit from this, the country’s culture will become strong. This is cultural production.

Like economic matters, if we do not produce in the area of culture, we will need imports. This is like the economy. If you do not have domestic production, imported products will replace domestic products. When importation replaces domestic production, the result will be that domestic production will not be able to survive in the future. This is one of our problems today: excessive – and perhaps – uncalculated importation in different areas and in return, incomplete and flawed production. The same is true of culture. If you do not have cultural production, cultural imports will enter the country whether officially or in the form of smuggling. In the present time, cultural imports are too many. I have ample information in this regard and I sometimes warn officials in this regard. I hope that they pay attention, God willing. Of course, some of them pay attention.

The enemies are thinking. In the chambers that they refer to as “think tanks”, they are busy thinking about how they can infiltrate the culture of the people of Iran and how they can convert the youth. Their desire is to make you youth – who breathe today with the love of Imam (r.a.), with the love of the Revolution, and with the love of lofty religious, Islamic and revolutionary values – become empty of all these values and turn into elements which are dependent on western culture and philosophy. They want you to become elements which are useless for yourselves, for the country and for its future. This is their desire. And they are planning for this. They are working on this. This is different from security plans. This is different from security plots. This is different from threatening to launch a military attack.

In my opinion, this is more dangerous than those actions. If the enemy makes a military move, it will make the people more motivated and it will make them clench their fists against them more firmly. This is what a military move does. A cultural attack, however, works in the opposite way. If the enemy manages to launch a cultural attack, it will sap individuals’ energy, it will make them indecisive, it will weaken their willpower, it will take away the youth from the country and it will render valuable forces useless. This is a cultural attack.

The way to confront this is to boost cultural production. One cultural product is what is related to you and to Rahian-e Noor. Rahian-e Noor was really an innovation and a good tradition which was introduced and established by our dear brothers in the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and in other divisions. Rahian-e Noor is very good. In any case, I hope that this task will be accomplished in the best way possible.

Besides, you should pay attention that the reporters who guide individuals in these groups should know what things should be included in their reports. This reporting is different from the kind of reporting that is done for foreign tourists who come here to visit such and such a structure. This is different. This should not be confused with that. The reports that are suitable for both kinds are different. In Rahian-e Noor, one’s report should be imbued with clarification, understanding, truth and outstanding and positive points about the Sacred Defense Era and its values. Reports should be like this.

Of course, I am not saying that you should exaggerate. I do not advocate exaggeration, embellishment and other such methods in any way. On the contrary, we had both successful and unsuccessful attacks in those eight years. For example, we launched an unsuccessful attack in Operation Ramadan or Karbala-4. We launched successful attacks as well. For example, during Operation Val Fajr-8, our youth managed to go to the other side of Arvand Rud. However, even those successful attacks were accompanied by hundreds of problems. Not all individuals are the same. There were many difficulties. Some individuals would turn back, some would change their minds, some would not advance and some would think about what was being said about them more than thinking about carrying out their duties.

We had such individuals as well. We can mention these facts as well. There is nothing wrong with this. These things were only part of those extraordinary flashes – those peerless individuals and those dear and lofty martyrs who showed themselves, their value and their excellence. Therefore, it is not at all necessary for us to exaggerate and to speak as if they were different individuals because this was not the case. They were like us, but they knew the path better than we did. They understood life better than us. They were more blessed and they relied on God more than we did. That was why Allah the Exalted paid more attention to them by quenching their thirst from the spring of His blessing and grace.

Each of these five provinces – Khuzestan, Ilam, Kermanshah, Kurdistan and West Azerbaijan: the border strip in the western part of the country – has a specific value and status. The people in those provinces should receive our attention and kindness. All those provinces should be supported. If you look at all those regions, you will see that if it had not been for the people’s support, the task would not have moved forward. It was with the support of those people that our soldiers managed to perform their duties.

In the short periods of time that I was present in those arenas, I saw with my own eyes the people’s help, support and special attention to the soldiers. This encouraged our soldiers to fulfill great tasks and to make those moves.

I hope that Allah the Exalted will make you successful. I hope that He will make this task a blessed task so that the country will benefit from its achievements in the present time and in the future, God willing.

Greetings be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings