Publications & Statements by Imam

03/25/06: It's time for Iran and America to talk

Detroit News- March 25, 2006

It's time for Iran and America to talk

"O ye who believe! Let not others' hatred of you incite you to depart from justice. Be just: That is next to piety."-- (Quran 5:8)

I n his State of the Union speech, President George W. Bush expressed hope that one day would be the closest of friends with . The president authorized U.S. Ambassador Khalilzad in to work with the Islamic republic toward regional security.

If that is our goal, then why did Vice President Dick Cheney and Ambassador John Bolton, at a recent AIPAC conference in New York, threaten Iran with military force while Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice allocated $75 million to support the Iranian opposition in an effort to destabilize the Islamic republic?

The pledged in the 1981 Algier Accords not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily in 's affairs. To demand regime change despite this international agreement is reprehensible.

is not talking to , and I am not a spokesman for when I say we need a friendly atmosphere for a civil dialogue. If we are worried about 's cooperation on the nuclear energy issue, then let the International Atomic Energy Agency finish its work instead of engaging in nervous negotiations on the United Nations Security Council.

President Bush sent a wrong message when he offered help to India's nuclear technology, even though India refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, while trying to prevent Iran, which has signed the treaty, from having access to nuclear power. doesn't deserve to be insulted and treated this way.

Though thousands of Russian, Israeli, Pakistani, Indian and U.S. nuclear weapons surround Iran, Ali Larijani, Iran's Supreme National Security Council secretary, told Time magazine that nuclear weapons have no place in Iran's national security doctrine because Iran's spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khomenei, considered the production of any nuclear weapon immoral.

The former Iranian president talked to us on CNN and for eight years urged us toward peaceful dialogue. Following September 11, President Khatami was the first who expressed sympathy with our nation. The Iranians held candlelight vigils and a minute of silence for the tragedy in 's stadium.

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has called for and the to develop normal relations. Gen. Wesley Clark wants and to talk "face to face instead of yelling threats at one another across the fence."

is an extremely important part of our world. The real wealth of Iran is not its geopolitical situation, oil, carpets, pistachios and caviar, but its 70 million men and women, more educated than ever, with deep spiritual values and a great sense of pride for their national independence.

While the whole world is asking the to talk with , the Israeli government and lobbies are the only ones asking for war with . The real problem the has with is not over democracy or human rights. The real issue is 's opposition to the Israeli occupation of .

We have to deal with the Katrina homeless, increasing poverty, health care cuts and a skyrocketing national debt. Why don't our leaders put our house in order instead of talking about another war? is enough!

An Arabic proverb says, "The wise man is not bitten from the same hole twice," which means: "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi heads the Islamic House of Wisdom.