Published on March 9th, 2015 | by Jeff McIntire-Strasburg1
Supreme Leader Of Iran Calls For Attention To Environmental Challenges
The idea of a religious leader promoting environmental protection generally doesn’t strike us as odd: Pope Francis does this pretty regularly, as do a number of other leaders from different faith traditions. But when we Americans hear the phrase “the Supreme Leader of Iran,” we’ve been conditioned to expect something scary. Politics aside, though, Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamenei is a religious leader, so we shouldn’t be surprised when he addresses a tenant of the faith: specifically, environmental protection.
Lebanon’s Al-Manar TV noted that Khamenei recognized the National Week of Natural Resources on Sunday by noting:
Islam and the divine religions have always underlined the necessity for humans to feel responsible for the nature and maintenance of balance between the human being and his environment since the main cause of environmental problems is when this balance is disturbed.
And while we tend to think of “the mullahs in Tehran” as religious nationalists, Khamenei’s statement also took note of global environmental successes, and raised environmental challenges in both urban and rural settings.
No doubt there was some political motivations underlying this statement: Al-Manar notes that rumors have been circulating of the Ayatollah’s poor health, so this provided an opportunity to show Khamenei’s still alive and well (and, apparently, jab a stick in the eye of Israeli and Western media… sigh). But it’s good, as Westerners, to see an example of an Iranian religious leader addressing issues of faith that aren’t tied to international conflict.
Truthfully, I know little of environmental initiatives in Iran; if you know of efforts there – driven either by the faith community, or by more conventional environmental organizations – tell us about them!