President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, speaking in Tehran on Sunday, stressed that moderation and commitment to the constitution by all political groups and parties was the only way out of the problems facing the country, IRNA reported.
Speaking at a joint meeting of members of the Iranian cabinet and parliament, Khatami reasserted his commitment to duty and the Founder of the Islamic Republic.
"I, as an eternal lover of Imam Khomeini and a servant of the Iranian nation, will always support the people's aspirations for freedom, democracy, self-determination within the framework of religion while opposing despotism."
Alluding to the attacks against the Majlis as a disservice to truth and an attempt to undermine the democratic foundation of the Islamic system, he said that while the performance of both the government and Majlis was not beyond reproach, certain criticisms leveled against the performance of administrative and legislative officials have been unfair.
Referring to the Iranian nation's calls for independence, freedom and progress, he said these are aspirations of Iranians dating back to the past century that are inseparable with their calls for respect for religious values and principles.
The president, who is known to be a lover of philosophy, defended the Islamic system of government which upholds freedom within the context of religion, saying this system is the only one which can guarantee Islam, independence and freedom in this country.
"In a democratic, religious society, religion makes the exercise of freedom gentle while freedom makes religion a dynamic force in society and one that is flexible to the changing demands of time."
He added: "Religious rulership, in my belief and with due consideration to my experiece, could and should save Iran and be a launching pad for development of the entire Islamic world."
Khatami also expressed his concerns for the country. "I am worried for Iran," he said, and admitted the existence of big plots to destroy the government and undermine the state. He then urged the people "to strengthen ourselves from within."
Pointing to the immense value of the Islamic Revolution in changing the way Iranians live and the high price paid to achieve and defend it, he said this important event in Iranian history which led to the entire world standing for freedom and independence should be appreciated for all time and not be ceded for nothing.
The Iranian president further cautioned against moves to attach a political perspective to all problems facing the country, saying he regretted the fact that all economic solutions are being buried in an atmosphere of political intrigues.
He went on to say that the people were suffering from economic and social woes just as they were groaning in a society where lies abound and religion, revolution and the epic of martyrs are being exploited.
Underscoring the democratic way of life guaranteed in the Islamic system anchored on a constitution that upholds fundamental human rights, including the practice of religion, he said this system which ensures freedom of expression and thought can be the source of strength for the Islamic Republic.
President Khatami, in his closing remarks, made a subtle rebuke of the kind of freedom that would promote faschist, backward and weird interpretations of religion, saying these deviations should now be denounced.
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