On Sunday 17th June '07 in London, this letter was handed personally by Mehri Niknam to Mr Esfandiar Rahim Masha'ie, Deputy President of Iran and Minister for Culture and Tourism.
"In the name of God Creator of life"
Mr Ahmadinejad, the President
I write to you as an educated and cultured Iranian Jewess who has always been highly proud of her Iranian cultural heritage and Jewish religion. The language, literature and culture of my country of origin are an integral part of my identity and my soul. My Iranian cultural heritage is also inclusive of Islam and its lore of spiritual beauty and universal and ethical values.
My academic field is "Comparative Judaism and Islam in the Middle Ages", specialising in their mystical/philosophical traditions. As a Jewish Islamophile, I have dedicated my life to promoting the positive profile of Islam and Muslims in the West. As a lecturer, I have educated students in the historical and cultural interactions between adherents of both religions in theology, philosophy, mysticism. As the Executive Director of a Muslim-Jewish Interfaith organisation I have encouraged and facilitated meetings, interactions and co-operations between the Muslim and Jewish communities based on the principles of shared values for two religious minorities in Britain. I am delighted to say that my efforts have been recognized by the Muslim community who accepts me as an "Honorary Muslim", and I was awarded the MBE by Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth for my services to Muslim-Jewish Interfaith Relations.
Therefore, how do you expect me to feel when the President of my beloved country of Iran constantly and repeatedly calls for the "wiping out" of Israel, the country of my honourable and revealed religion? When you call Israel "a cancerous growth", you are also including me and all other Jews in the world because Israelis are also Jews. When you ask for the "destruction" of Israel, you are condemning to death all the Jews.
I know that you say that you differentiate between Israelis and Jews, but let me assure you that no Jewish person who has the freedom of speech makes such a differentiation. Of course there is the very marginal and heretical sect of Neturei Karta (less than half a one percent of the world Jewry!) that does declare such absurd nonsense. But this group with their corrupted ideology are despised by the world Jewry and banned from all synagogues and Jewish centres. You can be rest assured that not a single Jew, no matter how secular or how geographically distanced form Israel or how radically political would ever support your call for the “destruction” of Israel, our historical and spiritual homeland.
Mr President, I ask you in the scholarly manner, please tell me where in any ayah of the Holy Qur’an or any hadith of the Prophet does it say that you should wipe out an entire nation including women and children? Did the Prophet ever do such an act in his own wars against the idolaters of Mecca or even the Jewish tribes of Medina? Did the Muslim armies, even under 'Omar Ibn Khattab, ever put to death an entire nation? Such barbarous actions belong to Genghis Khan and bloody Attila the Hun and cursed Hitler. We teach hadith qudsi that says it is written upon the throne of the Creator "Let my mercy precede my judgement". We encourage people to respect Islam because it is revealed from "Allah the most Beneficent the most Merciful". I and many more British Jews than you can even imagine, support the British Muslims and fight for their rights as equal citizens of this country through peaceful means and democratic system.
But you sir, support the murder of my innocent child and promote violence and hatred and destruction. What would a Muslim mother feel in my place?
In response to your actions, I encourage the general public to be aware of the sufferings of human beings across the world regardless of colour, creed or nationality because God created humanity.
"You who are unaware of the suffering of others do not deserve to be called a Human Being" Sa'di. 13th cent, Persian.
When you deny the historical truth of the Holocaust, you are denying the heinous slaughter of six million innocent men, women and children by the Nazis just because they were Jews. I have been taught that a Kafer is one who covers the truth, and let God be the judge of that. But I invite you in the name of humanity and truth to visit Auschwitz and Dachau and think on it.
Mr President, I am proud to belong to the Iranian Jewry, one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world. I love Iran and Iranians and our cultural heritage. I respect and promote and teach Islam as a revealed religion which has much to offer to the spiritual and ethical wellbeing of humankind. But so long as you deny the truth of the Holocaust and promote the "destruction of Israel", neither I nor any other Jewish person will respect you or support you.
Mr President, let us try for the sake of our children who are our future to promote "life" rather than "death". Let us bring justice and felicity into the world through peaceful means and eschew from violence, bloodshed and destruction. Let us not allow politics to corrupt our souls, and instead of following our personal greed, let us strive for humanity and human beings. Let us work towards creating heaven on earth so that the glorious prophetic vision of Isaiah should be fulfilled: "And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation Neither shall they learn war any more" Isaiah 2:4
May this be God's Will. Amen
Mehri Niknam MBE
17th June 2007, London