“The Iranian people want their freedom back. They do not want to banish Islam from their lives. Far from it. They want to be free of those who have dragged the sacred garments of Islam into the political gutter.”
So said Secretary of State Colin Powell at City College of New York.
Retorted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi: “American officials’ interpretations of Islam and Muslims clearly prove that, like many other issues such as Iraq, the Middle East and democracy, they know nothing about Islam and Muslims.”
In 1979, Americans were aghast at the specter of Iran, a modern society rushing headlong to embrace a medieval theocracy. Women took the veil as a political statement — just as the veil is a political statement in France and Germany today. Even today in Nigeria and elsewhere, the institution of Sharia enjoys broad popular support. Powell may be on thinner ice than he realizes when he questions the Islamic character of the present Iranian regime. Maybe those who ultimately topple it will be able to institute an Islamic government (as opposed to a secular government administered by Muslims) with more of a human face, but that remains to be seen.