True Islam is moderate and is neither fundamentalist nor jihadist, a ranking official of the embassy of Iran in Manila said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a roundtable with The Manila Times on Wednesday, Dr. Kiomars Amiri, cultural counselor of the Iranian Embassy, differentiated the true Islamic religion from the fundamentalist form espoused by such groups as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Abu Sayyaf Group, which mainly operates in Mindanao in the Philippines.
Amiri said true Islam is based on peace, friendship, kindness and humility, while fundamentalist Islam embraces ignorance, suffering and is principally aimed at harming others.
“ISIS is not Islam,” he added. “Raping students in front of their parents and executing innocent people are not works of Islam believers.”
Amiri said Filipino Muslim youth must shun ISIS because its beliefs are not based on the teachings of Mohammad.
The former university professor, who has authored 41 books, said Filipinos and Iranians share the common belief in political freedom.
Amiri, also a former magazine publisher in Tehran, said one of the most effective ways to educate Filipinos about Iran is through cultural orientation, like the appreciation of Iranian poems, art and music.
Amiri was accompanied to The Times office by Dr. Hossein Faiyaz, the embassy’s executive managing director, Iranians fought foreign influence and political repression, Amiri said, referring to the Iranian Revolution that led to the establishment of an Islamic republic on April 1,1979.
In the same vein, Filipinos rose against Spanish colonial rule and ousted a dictatorial regime through the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986, he noted.
Iranians have been coming to the Philippines since 1946, and many Iranian students are enrolled in such courses as management, engineering, dentistry and nursing in Philippine colleges, Amiri said.
The Iranian envoy told The Times President and CEO Dante F.M. Ang 2nd that they are willing to sign an agreement for an information sharing scheme between The Times and the Tehran Times and a student and faculty exchange program between state-owned universities in Tehran and The Manila Times College.
He said in observance of the 50th year of Iranian-Philippine relations, the embassy will hold cultural shows in different universities in Metro Manila.
“Culture is the best way to introduce a nation.”