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Imam Khomeini's Reply to the Message of Pope John Paul II

November 12, 1979
Imam Khomeini's reply to the message of Pope John Paul II through his envoy Msgr. Anibale Buguini.
In the Name of God the Merciful, the Compassionate

At this sensitive stage, I would not have accepted to meet an official concerning this matter, but out of respect for the Christian leader, I am happy to make an exception, since it gives me the opportunity to reply to the message which the Pope has sent.
In my opinion and in the opinion of my people, rather, I should say, in the opinion of all the deprived nations of the world, whether Muslim, Christian or belonging to any other religion, one issue is unclear. I would like to clarify this issue. The 35 million people of Iran, as well as the millions of deprived peoples of the world who have been under the yoke of oppression and the pressure of colonialism, particularly on the part of the United States, expressed most recently by pressure applied by Carter, have all been waiting for a kind word from the Pope all these years. They expected the Pope to at least give a stern warning to the U.S. and other powers that have been exploiting the deprived nations of the world.
For fifty years, the noblest of our youth have been killed and undergone inhuman and savage torture by agents of the shah and the U.S. During all these years, the Pope neither supported our oppressed people nor made an effort to mediate. All of a sudden, when our youth, who had been under pressure and who had suffered for many years, took over the den of espionage and arrested some persons in that house of spies, against whom there is sufficient evidence of wrong-doing, the Pope has decided to mediate.

A Center for Espionage and Conspiracy
The best evidence is that il1 the course of the three hours while the youth were struggling to penetrate the den of spies, the Embassy personnel were busy destroying the documentary evidence, leaving only a pile of powder behind. If the building were truly an Embassy, and if these papers were truly Embassy documents, there would have been no need to destroy them so hastily. Now that the conspiring has been made evident to us, conspiracy not only against Iran, but against Islam and against humanity in general, our people both within and outside the country, along with the people of other nations, are supporting this brave act. Embassies are not permitted to spy and it is our legal right to prevent them from spying. Experts have shown that the U.S. embassy was a center of espionage and conspiracy. Now that the conspiratory purpose has been proven, the action of our youth has been supported and confirmed by every sector of our community, except the few who have deviated. This indicates that it is an action deeply desired by our nation and not just a matter of caprice. What has caused the Pope suddenly to decide that this is the occasion to intervene for the sake of humanitarian feelings and asks that the conspirators be released? A human being should treat his enemies well. As I understand, our Muslim students have behaved with humanity towards them so no one need be concerned about that. Now, about their release. We must consider the result toward which our nation is directed. Is the object of our young people in taking this center actually inhumane? What has made our young people occupy the center of conspiracy and put a stop to its activities? Are they, in fact, opposed to human rights? Our nation wants back the man who is now in America and has caused our nation and people to suffer for thirty-seven years of his treachery .That man ruled for thirty-seven years and stifled our nation and our young people who had no freedom or human existence under his oppression. His henchmen admit that with their own hands on the 15th of Khordad, 1342 (June 5, 1963), they murdered masses of people. They massacred over 100,000 and maimed 100,000 more. This long-suffering nation only wants its criminal back, to be justly tried. If he is found guilty of having plundered our wealth, it should be taken away from him. How did he and his agents earn and gather such a huge amount of wealth which is all stored in foreign banks in the U.S. and other countries of the West?
I myself and those who are my age have lived through the age when his father, Reza Khan, who had nothing, staged his coup d'etat. He was a simple soldier. But when he took control, he forcibly seized the lands of the people. The green lands of Mazandaran in the north were seized by his agents on his claim that they belonged to him. Any landowner or religious man who protested, was put into prison and some were even killed.
I, and those my age, still remember the massacre at the Gowhar Shad Mosque in Mash had. They entered the shrine during the ritual prayer and killed many innocent people who had gathered to pray. When Reza Khan left Iran, he took trunk full of Iran's jewels with him. The British took them from him during his exile and there has been no news of them since!
After him, the Allied powers imposed his criminal son upon our nation. Our people, considering what they had suffered at the hands of Reza Khan, were not willing to accept the son of Reza Khan. But they imposed him upon us and this allowed them to impose anything else they wanted. He had done countless treacherous deeds during his rule, beyond number. One of his deeds was, with the excuse of defending the country, to buy arms in return for the oil which he exported to the U.S. Because the equipment and weapons were from the U.S., military bases were established here. He gave our oil and with the income which belonged to the people, he established military bases for them. During the last 15 years, he has committed other treacheries and killed more of our young people than can be counted.

Pressure from the Allies
We had expected that during this period there would have been a kind word towards our deprived nation from one of the foreign religious leaders, in particular, the leader of the Christian world. I cannot believe that the Vatican is not aware of these facts. I do not know how to explain this unclear issue. I am asked by my nation whether or not the religious Christian community agrees with the crimes which the shah committed. How should I answer them?
The Christian clergy know that the Holy Qur’an has stressed belief in Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary. The Qur’an has also supported the efforts of Christian saints and scholars. We expected the Pope to ask about what was happening in our country. Why doesn't he ask Carter why he accepted such a man like the shah over the will of the people? Ask Carter why the U.S. is protecting such an obviously treacherous man, a murderer, who ruled over thirty years in this country. Are they intending to conspire against this nation in this way?
We are not surprised that Carter is making every effort towards this purpose, because he is a politician. But it is not sound politics. It is a politics which merely protects personal interests and profit and gives free license to commit any crime and justify heinous acts. Carter is afraid that those who have been taken as hostages will ten us something of the conspiracies of the U.S. in this country. It is natural that Carter makes every effort possible to secure their release but we are astonished as to why the Pope should intermediate with an oppressed nation whose intention is to make the oppressions which occurred in this country clear, to show them to other people and to the deprived nations of the world. Why have they performed so many oppressions? We only want to put a traitor and criminal on trial.

Trial in the Presence of the Pope's Representative
If it were feasible, we would be willing to see him tried in another country. But all of the dossiers of the crimes he committed are in in this country. There are millions of witnesses who live in Iran. The oppressed farmers, laborers, religious scholars; university students are all witnesses. How is it possible that more than 20 million of the people be taken out of the country to bear witness? But out of respect of pope, we are prepared to conduct our trial in the presence of his representatives and even representatives of our deadly enemy, Carter.
The Pope should know that this is not a case personally solved by me. Neither I, nor anyone else can impose anything on our nation. Islam does not allow dictatorship the way of the nation. We have to follow the way of the nation. Almighty God and the Prophet of Islam have not permitted anyone to impose anything upon his nation.
It is possible that I might request them to do something, a humble request, a request that a servant of a nation asks of his nation. But the main point is that this problem is not in my hands, I obey the will of the people, and the people of Iran have supported the student's action. You may have heard the radio's announcement of support from many groups throughout Iran.
The care we are seeking is a humanitarian care. The problem is that it be in agreement with human rights. Our nation, as a Muslim nation, is devoted to human rights. You who are a Christian, follow Jesus Christ. You should also look after and protect human rights. It is human right which makes our nation insist that the man be tried, so that those who supported and helped him be made known and people be made aware of his role as an enemy of humanity. Who obliged him to use all his power to oppress us, to commit crimes against us and spoil all of our resources? Let this be a lesson for all nations.
Therefore, I ask the Pope to contact Carter, to appeal to him, and try to clear up these problems, and send representatives to study them properly. Does the Pope realize that all of the oppressions, massacres, plundering were wrong and all of the resources which were taken from this poor nation were taken wrongly? Does the Pope realize that all of the wealth and resources of this nation have been stored in foreign banks through him while our poor people are still living in slums, even near Tehran? They have no house, no bread and no jobs? If he has not heard these things before, I bring them to his attention now. Considering all these facts, he can hardly declare that we should release the hostages without the shah being returned to stand trial here, because he and anyone else who comes to realize the situation certainly opposes these crimes.

A Just Trial
We are asking for nothing illegal. Our request is one which everyone in the world could accept except Carter. The problem is that the U.S.A. is harboring a criminal who killed our young people. He has burned them, tortured them and sawed off their feet. Our request is that he be delivered to us, in order to be justly tried in the presence of representatives from all the nations of the world.
If we were not right, the people would accept that man back on the throne. Carter acts with might, not right. It is up to the Pope, considering his spiritual influence, to make this clear to Carter. You should know that those who argue against this point in the name of Jesus Christ, may be ignoring the movement of the people in their own countries.
The Pope should consider the respect of Christian nations and all of the deprived and abased people of the world. He should look after the honor of Christians. He must declare to people like Carter who are acting in the name of Jesus Christ that their actions are in opposition to the way of Jesus Christ. You must mention the crimes of Carter to people as we did in the case of Mohammad Reza. The people knew him but we tried to explain his traits more precisely. You must follow the same procedure. We would be most grateful to you.
If Jesus Christ Were Alive Today Considering the fact that we are oppressed, we ask you for judgment. You must provide salvation for the Christian nations. Nations must be saved from actions which are performed in the name of Jesus Christ and Christianity but which are in reality, crimes. These actions hurt the reputation of Jesus Christ and Christianity.
If Jesus Christ were alive today, he would condemn Carter. If he were alive today, he would release us from the clutch of this enemy of the people, the enemy of all humanity. You are a representative of Jesus Christ and thus you must do what he would do.
I pray that God awakens you to your divine and religious duties in that all of them be directed towards oppressed people. We hope the Pope turns his attention towards this oppressed nation. We apologize that under the present circumstances, we cannot accept his suggestion. But he should know that the hostages are being well-treated. I ask that you, as the representative of the Pope, personally go to visit them. See the condition of their surroundings. Speak with them and ask them whether they are comfortable or not. Certainly they are comfortable.
Military Action and Economic Sanctions Carter is like a drowning man. On the one hand, he threatens Iran with military action and on the other, with economic sanctions. It is regretful that a man who claims to bean Iranian, Bakhtiar, and who says, 'I am an Iranian before-I am a Muslim,' is neither Iranian nor Muslim, when he proposes that Carter impose economic sanctions. He is now in England. He believes himself to be a nationalist. He is a living example of what I mentioned before.
I said that the super-powers have been keeping someone for the last twenty or thirty years in a political movement or front while that person is their agent and their servant. He seeks shelter under the word 'nationalist', such as Bakhtiar did when he attached himself to Dr. Mossadeq and announced himself to be a nationalist. They are using him after twenty years. He spent many years in the National front, claiming to be an Iranian nationalist by saying, 'I am an Iranian first, then a Muslim.' We see that he is being groomed as a substitute for God's worst creature, Mohammad Reza. Bakhtiar murdered many people and he ordered many crimes and massacres but the people did not obey him. Now he suggests that economic sanctions should be imposed upon Iran.
We fear neither military action nor economic sanctions, because we are followers of the Imams who gladly welcomed martyrdom. Our nation today welcomes martyrdom with joy. Even if America intervenes militarily, we are not afraid. There are 35 million Iranians who are ready to face the U.S. and ready to die for the sake of justice.
We are a resisting people. We are not afraid. Our youth have stood against tanks, cannon fire and machine guns. So Mr. Carter cannot threaten us with armed fire. We are fighters, even though we do not have the equipment America has.
From the economic point of view, I can, tell you that our nation is used to hunger. We have had these troubles for thirty years. If they use economic sanctions against us, we will fast. They are wrong to think that an economic blockade would affect us. The wheat and oats which we plant will be sufficient for us. We will eat meat once a week. We will have one meal a day. We are not afraid of such threats. If we had to decide between defending our honor or filling our stomachs, we will remain hungry.
I ask you to deliver my greetings to the Pope and convey my request through our mutual religious ties and our belief in One God that He assists this oppressed nation by giving wise and fatherly Counsel to the super-powers.
Peace be upon you, and the Mercy and Blessings of God.

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