Dr. Kevin BarrettResponses
Ph.D. Arabist-Islamologist, One of America’s best-known critics of the War on Terror
I think Ayatollah Khamenei realizes that young people are more open to new information than older people. Also, young people use alternative media more than older people and are more aware that mainstream media are untrustworthy. Since the mainstream media will block or distort his message, he (the leader) is going around the censorship by speaking directly to western young people.
I think he (Sayyid Khamenei) is asking young people to recognize that much of the information about Islam in the mainstream media, and to a lesser extent in the western educational system, is propaganda. To gain a better understanding, young people (and others) should bypass the middleman and get their information from the primary sources.
Of the three major western monotheisms, Islam is most compatible with reason and scientific approaches to knowledge. But it is not easy for western people to grasp this. One obstacle is the translations. Most translations of Islamic material in western languages are either unfriendly (the non-Muslim ones) or clumsy (the Muslim ones). Another obstacle is that the Saudis have spent a lot of money spreading their Wahhabi version of Islam, which western people generally find unappealing. Most western people tend to like the more mystical and sophisticated approaches of Shiite Islam.