Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has appealed to youth in North America and Europe to seek out their own understanding of Islam and ignore prejudice in the media.
In the letter published on his Twitter account Wednesday night, Khamenei said he was addressing Western youth because "the future of your nations and countries will be in your hands."
Writing about Islam and its image as presented to the Western world, Khamenei said: "Many attempts have been made over the past two decades...to place this great religion in the seat of a horrifying enemy."
"The histories of the United States and Europe are ashamed of slavery, embarrassed by the colonial period and chagrined at the oppression of people of color and non-Christians....You know well that humiliation and spreading hatred and illusionary fear of the "other" have been the common base of all these oppressive profiteers. Now, I would like you to ask yourself why the old policy of spreading "phobia" and hatred has targeted Islam and Muslims with an unprecedented intensity."
In the 900-word letter, Khamenei set out certain requests for those reading the letter. "Study and research the incentives behind this widespread tarnishing of the image of Islam", he said, encouring them to try to gain a first hand knowledge of Islam, rather than accepting his own or any other reading of the religion. "Receive knowledge of Islam from its primary and original sources", he said, recommending they look at the Qur'an rather than the media alone.
He concluded the letter with an appeal to young people in the West not to allow offensive depictions against Islam to create a gulf between them and reality, saying: "Hopefully, due to your sense of responsibility toward the truth, future generations would write the history of this current interaction between Islam and the West with a clearer conscience and lesser resentment."