Iran's Supreme Leader pens open letter to the young people of the West

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has asked young people in the West to ignore media portrayals of Islam.

Story highlights

  • Iran's Supreme Leader asks Western youths to study Islam before making judgments
  • Ayatollah Ali Khamenei criticizes the media's portrayal of Muslims after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris

(CNN)Iran's Supreme Leader has written a letter in English asking Western youths not to judge Islam based on the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks, in a message published on the cleric's website and Twitter account.

In the post, titled "To the Youth in Europe and North America," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calls on young people to seek out their own understanding of Islam, and he criticizes the media's portrayal of Muslims following the massacre of 16 people at the French satirical magazine and at a kosher supermarket in Paris this month.
    "The recent events in France and similar ones in some other Western countries have convinced me to directly talk to you about them," Khamenei's letter reads. "I am addressing you, [the youth], not because I overlook your parents, rather it is because the future of your nations and countries will be in your hands; and also I find that the sense of quest for truth is more vigorous and attentive in your hearts."
    The Paris attacks, which have provoked a wave of anti-Islam protests in the West, were retribution for Charlie Hebdo's lampooning of Islam over the years. The magazine's first issue after the attack, which features a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed on its cover, has sparked demonstrations across the Muslim world.
    But the leader of Iran, where chants of "Death to America" have been a familiar refrain at Friday prayers and parliamentary sessions since the Islamic republic's founding in 1979, strikes a more conciliatory tone in his message to young people in the West.
    "I don't insist that you accept my reading or any other reading of Islam," his letter reads. "What I want to say is: Don't allow this dynamic and effective reality in today's world to be introduced to you through resentments and prejudices. Don't allow them to hypocritically introduce their own recruited terrorists as representatives of Islam."