Channel 4’s ‘Alternative Christmas Message’
So let it be with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Christians of all denominations condemned the decision to invite him as ‘sick’, ‘disgusting’, a ‘scandal’, or something akin to blasphemy. It generated angry protests from Israel and other critics of the Islamic republic. They were precisely the constituency C4 sought to offend, and great offence they took.
Channel 4 has provocation in its DNA. And this is a good thing. It is frequently the only channel to tackle some of the touchiest religio-political issues of the age, and it does so with forensic precision. Of course the Christmas Day broadcast was offensive to many, but they are quick to forget that C4 is the only channel in the UK to have investigated what is being preached in many mosques, and they dared to broadcast ‘Undercover Mosque – the Return’ just in time for Ramadan.
And what did President Ahmadinejad actually say?
"If Christ was on earth today, undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers. If Christ was on earth today, undoubtedly he would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over.
"If Christ was on earth today, undoubtedly he would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as he did in his lifetime. The solution to today's problems can be found in a return to the call of the divine prophets.”
Well, if Christ were (subjunctive) on earth today, Mr President, he might talk to you of motes and beams, of not judging lest ye be judged, of considering one’s own sin before casting the first stone, of showing mercy before justice, and of loving one's neighbour as oneself, even if that neighbour is Israel.
Of course, the President is preaching his Jesus, appearing as an angel of light, deluding the masses with his unsubstantiated talk of Iran's efforts for peace and reconciliation. But we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Rom 8:28). Jesus Christ is not simply one of a number of prophets but the eternal Son of God, the Word of God made flesh, who died for the sins of the world and who rose again from the dead.
So it falls to Cranmer to seize the opportunity of this broadcast to draw the attention of his readers and communicants to the work of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom. Its work is supported by a majority of MPs and over 200 members of the House of Lords. Lord King of West Bromwich has written of the Iranian opposition party in Ashraf City, Iraq, whose residents are the embodiment of justice, and inspire hope for peace and democracy in Iraq and Iran. This group has long been seen as the greatest threat to the Iranian regime, with its mixture of democratic ideals and female liberation. The 4000-strong opposition group - complete with its President-elect Mrs Maryam Rajavi - has prided itself on offering a ‘third option’ to the Iranian crisis, democratic change through the Iranian people and their resistance movement – a far better alternative to either war or appeasement.
However, the Iranian regime and its proxies in Iraq have now put this Iranian group in danger. Iranian influence in Iraq has increased greatly over recent years as Tehran funds, trains and supplies weaponry to terrorist militias in Basra and beyond. This support for terrorist militias is the main cause of Coalition deaths. Iranian proxies are now believed to control a number of high-ranking positions in Iraq, while infiltration into the Iraqi police and military has left the Iranian opposition in danger of Tehran’s terrorism.
Since C4 has forged good relations with the President of Iran, perhaps they might extend a further invitation to him to appear before the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom?
Let him be questioned on democracy and freedom in Iran, and let C4 make documentaries about his execution of children, about the 170 mass graves each containing a truck-full of bodies, about the atrocities committed by the mullahs’ Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS), and about the stoning of women condemned to death by the testimony of two men.
Jaw-jaw is preferable to war-war. Since we are not at war with this odious regime, robust dialogue, not appeasement, is the best way of bringing democracy and freedom to Iran - a conclusion which will not only guarantee the safety of the Iranian people, but a solution which will greatly increase the likelihood for peace in Iraq and the wider Middle East.
Channel 4 may justifiably be condemned for granting this holocaust-denier a pulpit on Christmas Day, but it is utterly wrong to meet this with demands for censorship. The broadcaster now has a moral obligation to investigate further and finish the work it has begun. With direct access to the office of the President, who is now manifestly flattered and well-disposed to the organisation, the opportunity presents itself to tell the world of the barbaric injustices of this regime.
That would indeed be a worthy use of public money.
Failing that, perhaps C4 might invite the odious Nick Griffin to deliver the alternative Ramadan/Eid message next year?
Failing that, how about the utterly reasonable, eminently sensible and manifestly highly-qualified Bishop of Rochester?