Seyyed Ali Khamenei: Spiritual leader of Iran

This image is claimed as fair dealing under Australian copyright law. All rights belong to karentolo, an online artist I came across while searching for an image of the spiritual leader of Iran. I just really like this particular image because it conveys what I say here well. A man respected for his wisdom, humility, knowledge and spirituality. A side of him we hear nothing of in western commentary. Anyway, the image is great and I thank the artist for sharing it.

As an Australian-Iranian I have a privileged viewpoint when it comes to stories or comments we see about Iran here. Privileged because I can view and understand the same stories discussed by Iranian commentators over there. So when SBS or ABC run a story on the spiritual leader of Iran, for example, I can switch over to Iranian broadcasts to watch Mr Khamenei speaking to crowds followed by Iranian commentary.

And what's remarkable about this is this: he is almost always depicted as a caricature rogue leader by western commentators, whereas, on the ground, in Iran he is nothing of the sort. In Iran he is widely seen as a leader of revolutionary ideals and as someone who speaks out against imperialism, despotism and moral corruption. When it comes to geopolitics, Iran is a main player in its region and if for no other reason, it establishes respectful relationships with regional partners and those further afield for this very reason.

Over the years the main current of opinion in the west has accused Iran of state sponsored terrorism ever since it ousted the US backed 'suitcase monarch' Shah Pahlavi in 1979. Why would the west run with this line of propaganda for 36 years? Yes, I say propaganda because if one were to observe Iran's actions since the revolution one would find that it has maintained a defensive posture and sought to secure its borders and regional influence and relationships cooperatively. Should we be shocked by this? Of course not. Just as we aren't shocked by Australian regional security measures, right? Or how the United States continues to maintain ties with countries like Saudi Arabia that people on the ground know has an appalling human rights record, not to mention clear links to state sponsored terrorism.

So who is right here, if anyone? Maybe no one is. One thing is certain, hero and villain characters belong in fairy tales not news clippings. One should realise that there are complexities in other places and peoples. Mr Khamenei, like most leaders, has many sides to him, so why are we shown only one? Iran has shown great courage in rejecting foreign intervention in its affairs since it reclaimed its sovereignty with the revolution. If this offends those who wish to puppeteer with it once more, I say to you keep trying as you will, you will fail.

No one is obliged to respect Mr Khamenei but they are obligated to be balanced and fair by telling the whole truth; not just the repetitious half truth propaganda clips I've had to endure for 30+ years.