TEHRAN, Jan. 22 (UPI) -- An open letter by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader and a Shia cleric, suggests young people in the West examine Islam for themselves.
In "To the Youth in Europe and North America," posted to his Twitter account and published on his website Thursday, Khamenei urges young Westerners, in English, not to judge Islam by the January's terrorist incidents in Paris but to seek out their own understanding of the faith.
"The recent events in France and similar ones in some other Western countries have convinced me to directly talk to you about them. I am addressing you, not because I overlook your parents, rather it is because the future of your nations and countries will be in your hands; and also I find that the sense of quest for truth is more vigorous and attentive in your hearts."
I don't insist that you accept my reading or any other reading of Islam. What I want to say is: don't allow this dynamic and effective reality in today's world to be introduced to you through resentments and prejudices. Don't allow them to hypocritically introduce their own recruited terrorists as representatives of Islam."
He suggested a study of Islam using primary sources, suggesting readers to reject media portrayal of the faith. "At least, know what they are frightening you about," he writes.
Khamenei's letter also notes the United States and Europe have a history of oppression toward non-Christians and people of color, but praises the commentary of Western historians who are "deeply ashamed of the bloodsheds wrought in the name of religion between the Catholics and Protestants or in the name of nationality and ethnicity during the First and Second World Wars."
While his letter comes at a time of a potential breakthrough in relations between the West and Iran, through negotiations regarding Iran's nuclear program, Khamenei referred to the United States as an "enemy" in a Twitter posting two weeks ago, and offered negative comments regarding treatment of African-Americans during racial disturbances, in 2014, in Ferguson, Mo.