Middle East

Ayatollah Khamenei writes letter to Western youth

The Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks in a gathering of senior officials of in Tehran, Iran on 27 November 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged young people in Europe and the US to read the Koran for themselves

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has written an open letter to young people in the West urging them to examine Islam first hand rather than believe prejudiced views.

The letter encourages them to read the Koran for themselves and appeals for "impartial judgment".

Ayatollah Khamenei said that there had been a flood of misinformation about Islam in the West.

He added that he was prompted to write the letter by recent events in France.

A series of attacks in Paris by Islamist militants killed 17 people earlier this month.

In a statement published on his website, Ayatollah Khamenei said he was writing to young people in Europe and North America because they were the future of their nations.

Policy of fear

He asked them to gain a "proper, correct and unbiased understanding of Islam" and to form their own opinions of the religion.

He also called for people to question why the "old policy" of spreading fear and hatred has targeted Islam with such intensity.

"Many attempts have been made over the past two decades, almost since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, to place this great religion in the seat of a horrifying enemy," he said.

"Don't allow them to hypocritically introduce their own recruited terrorists as representatives of Islam."

Ayatollah Khamenei also tweeted excerpts from the letter on Wednesday using the hashtag #Letter4U.

He urged young people to find out about Islam from primary sources. "At least, know what they are frightening you about!" he said in a tweet.

Europe remains on high alert after the deadly attacks in Paris on 7 January 2015.

Iran denounced the shooting at the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo but has also condemned as "provocative" its publication last week of a new cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption There have been protests in Iran over Charlie Hebdo's cartoon of the Prophet Muhammed

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