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"We bring peace" .... Right, sure ya do...
May 24, 2007 7:43 PM   Subscribe

A group of Mennonites at the University of Waterloo has come under fire for inviting a fundamentalist Iranian cleric to speak at a religious-studies conference. Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, who has openly supported human-rights violations in Iran, once lovingly declared: "If anyone insults the Islamic sanctity, Islam has permitted for his blood to be spilled, no court needed either." While Iranian-Canadians are up in arms, academic dean Jim Pankratz defends the invitation: "We really do believe it's important to talk to those who take opposing, even hostile, views." Persian bloggers see it quite differently.
posted by Menomena (20 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Conrad Grebel -- Peace and Conflict Studies program
posted by acro at 8:07 PM on May 24, 2007


I support these Mennonites in their support of Freedom of Speech and Intellectual Inquiry. How can one know what "they" say unless one listens?
posted by davy at 8:17 PM on May 24, 2007


Mennonites, frigging shit-stirrers.
posted by grobstein at 8:25 PM on May 24, 2007


Err... Your second Persian blogger is actually an Irish blogger.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 8:43 PM on May 24, 2007


Opposing views are nice, but kooks should just stay home and keep their blood spilling to themselves.
posted by caddis at 8:59 PM on May 24, 2007


Hey caddis, one person's kook is another one's Religious Authority. You know, like Jesus.
posted by davy at 9:02 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ditto davy. How on earth would one teach a Peace and Conflict Studies program without talking to people with opposing viewpoints?

And also Mesbah-Yazdi isn’t coming, just six academics for some institute he runs. A point missed I think by both bloggers as well as the poster. And BTW seems pretty strange Mesbah-Yazdi would let them come if he’s being properly portrayed:

“From his seminary in Qom, the holy city north of Tehran, Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi espouses total isolation from the West and zero tolerance to any veering away from fundamentalist Shia interpretation of Islam.”

All the more reason these type meetings should be welcomed.
posted by BostonJake at 9:16 PM on May 24, 2007


meh, keep his hating ass in Iran
posted by caddis at 9:22 PM on May 24, 2007


Mooninites ruin everything.
posted by empty commercial spaces at 10:57 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think this is an excellent thing and I hope to be able to cover it.
posted by parmanparman at 6:29 AM on May 25, 2007


The Mennonites will have more pull than a new radical Black group, but based on recent events, it's really up to Ottawa if he actually gets there. I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for those visas to arrive.
posted by Chuckles McLaughy du Haha, the depressed clown at 7:02 AM on May 25, 2007


Err... Your second Persian blogger is actually an Irish blogger.

Whoops... Iranian, Irish, it's just a few letters apart, really... ;)

And also Mesbah-Yazdi isn’t coming, just six academics for some institute he runs.

Can you provide the text where this is stated? The article seems to be pretty vague about exactly who is coming. Besides, does it even matter? I'll bet you $1000 that his cronies are going to be just as brainwashed and fundie as he is.

I don't know what to make of this. Maybe I just simply don't understand. If you're going to engage in public discourse about religion, it makes sense to get people from all over the spectrum. But (some, perhaps most?) fundamentalists are too busy foaming at the mouth to engage in worthwhile discourse. It's like arguing with a Nazi/Scientologist/anyone who's been brainwashed... What's the point, really? Unless you plan on walking around on eggshells with these people, which, when you consider that this is the THIRD time the institute has been invited to speak at their conferences, is probably what is happening here. You're just going to get a bunch of ayatollahs feeding Westerners bullshit about how they value democracy (they'll just say the "demo" part really quietly so they can whisper "theo" instead). Whatever. Free speech and all that. This committee is free to do whatever the hell they want, just as I'm free to judge them as much as I want. I really don't understand the value in this, but apparently this Mennonite commitee does.

What would be much more awesome is an invite from Mesbah-Yazdi's cronies for the Mennonites to come to Iran to discuss the persecution of minority religious groups. They could bring out Christian torture victims for exhibits. It would be grand.
posted by Menomena at 7:13 AM on May 25, 2007


Menomena, there is a reciprocal exchange, with Mennonite grad students going to the Islamic institute at Qom to study Islam. A couple who have spent the last several years there came and spoke at my (Mennonite) church in Boston a few months ago. They talked about their experiences and showed some slides. I don't believe that they were allowed to teach in Qom, but I'm sure their informal conversations with fellow students and teachers allowed them to talk about the Mennonite heritage of enduring religious persecution, from Luther to Stalin.

Guess what? It turns out that Iran, Iranian religious institutions, and the Iranian academy are big places where many different people hold many different views. Are there violent and intolerant jackanapeses aplenty at the top of the pile? I'm not well informed on the issue, but my impression is yes. However, I know that this is also true in my own country, the United States, and I wouldn't wish America or its scholars to be judged by George Bush and Jerry Falwell.

I'm not naively suggesting an equivalence, moral or otherwise, between the United States and Iran. I'm just saying that pointing out an Iranian bigwig and noting that he's a jerk is no reason to picket an academic conference, especially one that's explicitly organized to work against the positions of his that you rightly deplore.
posted by sy at 7:33 AM on May 25, 2007


Guess what? It turns out that Iran, Iranian religious institutions, and the Iranian academy are big places where many different people hold many different views.

Well, duh. Many are silenced by the government, too. I completely value the plethora of non-fundie Persian religious scholars, both the country inhabitants and the ex-pats. Hell, if these people really want to go full-spectrum, why not invite the silenced Iranian scholars, too? The ones who've been imprisoned or tortured for their beliefs? That would be awesome.

Considering the information you present, I could very well be wrong, and it's not right of me to judge the 6 scholars when the article doesn't mention them by name. But the mere association with Mesbah-Yazdi is enough to send a chill up my spine.
posted by Menomena at 7:54 AM on May 25, 2007


What's the point, really?

That's up to each individual to decide. If I feel like there's no point talking to someone, I won't talk to them, but I damn sure don't want some official making that determination for me. Or, what davy and BostonJake said.

Why are some people so terrified of other people being allowed to speak? If his views are so repellent, let people hear them so they'll realize it for themselves.
posted by languagehat at 1:00 PM on May 25, 2007


o/t "Cheney Attempting to Constrain Bush's Choices on Iran Conflict: Staff Engaged in Insubordination Against President Bush"
posted by acro at 1:02 PM on May 25, 2007


I wonder how many people who are defending this moonbat's "right" to speak would be so tolerant if it was a member of the Bush administration speaking.
posted by mattholomew at 8:20 PM on May 25, 2007


And also Mesbah-Yazdi isn’t coming, just six academics for some institute he runs.
posted by BostonJake

Can you provide the text where this is stated?
posted by Menomena


Well I can give you this: A group of Mennonites at the University of Waterloo has come under fire for inviting a fundamentalist Iranian cleric to speak at a religious-studies conference. posted by Menomena It’s a pretty crappy article, but its all I’ve got. Or are you asking me to research your topic for you? Or read the piece to you? I don’t get it.

The article seems to be pretty vague about exactly who is coming. Besides, does it even matter?
posted by Menomena


The article isn’t vague, its misleading, slanted and poorly written. As to whether or not it matters, does it? Being mislead? In front of thousands? By an op ed? That isn’t even in a real paper? While trying to make an argument against the need for open, unedited dialog?
posted by BostonJake at 11:45 PM on May 25, 2007


I wonder how many people who are defending this moonbat's "right" to speak would be so tolerant if it was a member of the Bush administration speaking.

It never ceases to amaze me how difficult it is for some people to grasp that other people actually hold consistent views. Yes, believe it or not, I support even a member of the Bush administration's right to speak in public. In fact, I would support Adolf Hitler's right to speak if he were to stagger out of the grave spewing vile rhetoric. That's right: I said HITLER!
posted by languagehat at 7:09 AM on May 26, 2007


I don’t get it.

Clearly. I've already researched it, thanks. This was the only article I could find. What I meant was, point me to the paragraph in the text I provided where this was stated. That's all. But thanks for the hostile answer.

The article isn’t vague, its misleading, slanted and poorly written. As to whether or not it matters, does it? Being mislead? In front of thousands? By an op ed? That isn’t even in a real paper? While trying to make an argument against the need for open, unedited dialog?

Did we read the same article? Are you serious? The TS is not a real paper? Really? Since when? How the fuck is this an op-ed? How is it slanted? The writer doesn't make an argument at all, she shows the arguments of both parties. What more do you want?

Thanks, BostonJackass.

I'm not against free speech. I'm pretty libertarian, and I think everyone should be allowed to speak, no matter how fundamentalist their opinion is.

But I do think that if this committee wants to do their conference justice, they should invite those who have been silenced for their views in Iran as well. Apparently, the last 2 days of the conference are open to the public. If they actually made it an open forum, that would be pretty fucking cool. If so, I really hope Iranian ex-pats--specifically those who were silenced--do show up and talk about religious intolerance in the world, and their experiences in Iran. As a student journalist, I would LOVE to cover that.
posted by Menomena at 8:38 AM on May 27, 2007


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