KHATAMI WARNS AGAINST MODERN DON QUIXOTES
By Safa Haeri, IPS Editor
MADRID, 30 Oct. (IPS) The Iranian President Mohammad Khatami likes to define himself as being closer to intellectuals and journalists than men of power. That’s probably right, because he could be a redoubtable adversary when he is both challenged and humiliated.
So, taking up his pen, -- this weapon of intellectuals and journalists that is more efficient than any other weapons at the hands of men of power --, on Wednesday he went on chasing the modern Don Quixotes, chief among them President George W. Bush of the United States, whom he had earlier on the same day accused of being the "promoter" of Ben Laden among Arab and Muslim masses against the "wise and intelligent Islam".
In a speech last January, president Bush tagged the Islamic Republic, Iraq and North Korea as forming an "axis of evil" and latter, he said he has abandoned Mohammad Khatami and would support directly the Iranian people and the real reformists calling for radical changes.
"The great differences between Cervantes’ imagination and our present realties is that although Don Quixote is constantly feeding on his own illusions, he is also a humanitarian, noble kind person. But those politicians who follow the path of Don Quixote in our age lack his ethical and emotional virtues" President Khatami fired during a half an hour long speech he gave an enthusiast group of academics, scholars and intellectuals at the Complutense University of Madrid.
"When a Quixotic view of the world lack emotion, humanitarianism, compassion and pity, it will either end in horrifying terrorism or dreadful wars that are not wars at all, because in wars people fight with one another. In our age, when superpowers break out wars, only their opponents suffer destructions, slaughters and catastrophes", he pointed out.
Citing from a panel of several world-famous poets, philosophers, novelists and thinkers, ranging from Heidegger to Proust to Kafka to Orwell, Hobbes as well as Dostoevsky and Turgeniev etc. to make sure that he knows what he is talking about, he added that contrary to Cervantes’ hero, the Don Quixotes of our time – on either side – "do not care for any one but themselves", he pointed out, speaking in Persian language.
"Don Quixotes of out time, whatever they want, is for their "national interests", for their authority and honour, for their wealth and progress. As long as the world is divided into their camp and that of others, obviously "they" try to dominate "others". Others must be annihilated. This is the announced or unannounced wish of immoral Don Quixotes. Annihilating others may be done in different ways, the most violent of which is terror and war", he observed.
In his speech, that was much more political and clear than the answers he provided journalists earlier on the day during a joint press conference with the Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, Khatami also condemned the American unilateral defence of Israel and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.
"To day, we can not live with double standards any more. We can no longer rationalise an absolutely cruel war of a government – just because it is a government and governments are international institutions –against defenceless people and at the same time, call the violent actions of these people as inhumane and fierce. Naturally, the opposition of this is also true. Don Quixote pictured windmills as evil monsters", he said.
"One of the most beautiful metaphors of Don Quixote portrays the time when dust settles down and it becomes clear that the army of enemy is nothing but a herd of harmless sheep. Can we also hope that the dust blocking the eyes of the superpowers would settle down too", he said to an applauding audience. ENDS KHATAMI MADRID VISIT 301002