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>> MEDIA ALERT: Joel will be on Janet Parshall’s America from 3:30pm to 4pm eastern to discuss Iran.
Since September 2006, I have been urging Western journalists to ask Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the record about his beliefs in the “Twelfth Imam” and about the implications of his annual prayer at the U.N. asking for Allah to “hasten” the arrival of the Islamic messiah, also known as the “Mahdi.” [First in an article on National Review Online on September 20, 2006; later in my non-fiction book, Inside The Revolution; and repeatedly in media interviews.]
For years, no American or British journalist has asked such questions, despite the importance Ahmadinejad’s eschatology plays in Iranian foreign policy. This year, with a nuclear showdown intensifying, journalists from Time, Newsweek, AP, CNN and NPR all were given lengthy sit-down interviews with the Iranian leader. But for yet another year, none of them asked questions about his religious beliefs.
However, after scouring the transcripts of all these and many other Western news reports over the past few days, I found a surprise at the end of the full transcript of NBC’s Ann Curry exclusive sit-down interview in Tehran last week. She actually did ask two important questions about the 12th Imam, becoming the first American reporter to do so. However, NBC has thus far failed to report the story. Neither NBC Nightly News nor the Today Show included Curry’s questions or Ahmadinejad’s answers in their respective reports on Thursday night and Friday morning. Nor have NBC publicists highlighted the eschatology questions and answers for other reporters or the public.
Did NBC’s producers and editors not find the exchange interesting? Why haven’t they asked experts to analyze Ahmadinejad’s answers, and to explore his religious beliefs more in-depth? I commend Ann Curry for the asking these questions. What’s more I encourage her to follow the story. It’s an intriguing one — and an important one — and she’s ahead of the pack on this.
MSNBC plans to air the entire interview on Sunday afternoon at 1pm eastern. I would encourage you to watch. Let’s hope that the program provides additional information and analysis above and beyond the straight interview.
Tomorrow, I’ll post my own analysis, but for now here is the exchange.
[To read the NBC transcript, please click here. To watch the video, please click here. The key portion starts at 36:40 minutes into the video and ends at 40:30.]
NBC’s Ann Curry: In your speeches, you pray for God to hasten the arrival of the hidden Imam, the Muslim messiah. Would you tell us, as I know you will speak about this at the general assembly, as well. What is your relationship with the hidden Imam, and how soon do you think before the second coming?
President Ahmadinejad: Yes, that’s true. I prayed for the arrival of the 12th Imam. The owner of the age, as we call him. Because the owner of the age is the symbol of the – justice and brotherly love prevailing around the world. When the Imam arrives, all of these problems will be resolved. And a prayer for the owner of the age is nothing but a wish for justice and brotherly love to prevail around the world. And it’s an obligation a person takes upon himself to always think about brotherly love. And also to treating others as equals. All people can establish such a connection with the Imam of the age. It’s roughly the same as the relationship which exists between Christians and the Christ. They speak with Jesus Christ and they are sure that Christ hears them. And responds. Therefore, this is not limited to us only. Any person can talk with the Imam.
Curry: You’ve said that you believe that his arrival, the apocalypse, would happen in your own lifetime. What do you believe that you should do to hasten his arrival?
Ahmadinejad: I have never said such a thing.
Curry: Ah, forgive me.
Ahmadinejad: I – I – I was talking about peace.
Curry: Forgive me.
Ahmadinejad: What is being said about an apocalyptic war and – global war, things of that nature. This is what the Zionists are claiming. Imam…will come with logic, with culture, with science. He will come so that there is no more war. No more enmity, hatred. No more conflict. He will call on everyone to enter a brotherly love. Of course, he will return with Jesus Christ. The two will come back together. And working together, they would fill this world with love. The stories that have been disseminated around the world about extensive war, apocalyptic wars, so on and so forth, these are false.
Also noteworthy from Curry’s interview is that four times she asks Ahmadinejad to rule out any scenario by which Iran would develop nuclear weapons, and four times he pointedly refuses.
KEY HEADLINES TO TRACK:
- Jerusalem Post: U.S. Defense Secretary Gates says Iranians intend to develop nuclear weapons
- Wash Post: “I think that, certainly, the intelligence people have no doubt that this is an illicit nuclear facility, if only because the Iranians kept it a secret,” Secretary Gates said on CNN. “If they wanted it for peaceful nuclear purposes, there’s no reason to put it so deep underground, no reason to be deceptive about it, keep it a secret for a protracted period of time.”
- AP: Iran conducts third round of missile tests
- NYT: U.S. to Demand Inspection of New Iran Plant ‘Within Weeks’
- NYT: Iran Tests Missiles After Rebuke Over Nuclear Plant
- AP: Medvedev says Russia may support sanctions on Iran
- Haaretz columnist: Clock ticking for Iran as Israel appears ready for strike
- WSJ: The Iran Attack Plan: Iran’s acknowledgment that it is developing a second uranium-enrichment facility does little to dispel the view that the regime is developing a weapons program. Israel must consider not just whether to proceed with a strike against Iran—but how. By Anthony H. Cordesman
- AP: Iraq’s President Talibani says Iran sanctions won’t work and Iraq won’t allow Israel to use Iraqi airspace to attack Iran
- MEMRI: Leading Egyptian Daily ‘Al-Ahram’ Reports: Coins from Era of Biblical Joseph Found in Egypt
- ANALYSIS: AHMADINEJAD’S DANGEROUS SPEECH AIMED AT BUYING TIME TO FINISH IRAN’S NUCLEAR BOMB, PREPARING WAY FOR TWELFTH IMAM
- Israel Stops For Yom Kippur: Israel freezes its activities for 24 hours of fasting, prayers and bicycle rides as holy Jewish day commences. Following last year’s riots in Akko, police and emergency services declare heightened state of alert in north for fear of possible clashes between Jews, Arabs
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