In the eyes of the beholder
HIS story of escape from a death sentence as a radical Muslim in Iran will amaze you. But it's Dr Daniel Shayesteh’s concerns for the future of democracy in Australia amid a growing “radical Muslim threat” that he wants you to hear.
He was on the Sunshine Coast last weekend, visiting churches sharing his beliefs and encouraging Christians to stand firm. Is he just another fundamentalist pastor spreading the message that the end is nigh? Or is Dr Shayesteh dire warning one we should wake up to.
His views are controversial. He believes Barack Obama is the “first of the anti-Christs” and Muslims are quietly gaining control by having many wives and lots of children. Read his story and his concerns and also the views of former Australian Federation of Islamic Councils president Haset Sali.
“I came from a radical Muslim family (in Northern Iran). I followed Islam and closely supported the Ayatollah Khomeini.
“Before the revolution (in 1979) the Ayatollah Khomeini promised freedom and democracy, but after it became a totalitarian dictatorship.
“I started my own political party, hoping the government would gradually and progressively bring freedom back
“Ayatollah called our party illegal. The government demolished it. Some escaped, some were killed, some were caught and put in prison. I was one of them.
“I was possibly 28 at the time. I was married, my eldest daughter was about three.
“In my room (in jail) there were about five of us waiting for death row. All the others were killed, shot – as far as I know.
“I escaped from Iran to Turkey.
“I studied international management, majoring in religion and culture and how they influenced behaviour. I was still a Muslim, but I lost my taste for being active.”
It was after his small business partner made off with his money that he found himself in a church and reading the New Testament.
“I was amazed how Christianity was love in every aspect,” he said.
“The relationship to Allah is one of slave to master, there is no love. Political opponents in Islam are killed; in Christianity they are loved.
“In Islam, the wife is inferior to you; you can beat your wife. In the Koran, Mohammed equalises women with animals.
“It was a 180-degree difference for me. I was amazed and shocked and blamed myself for listening to Islamic leaders. They always degraded Christianity and introduced it as evil. This was quite different.”
Dr Shayesteh finished his doctorate in Turkey but “didn’t have a country to go to”. He applied for Australia and was accepted in 1991.
“It was an amazing opportunity. I don’t know how to thank Australia,” he said.
“For that reason, that I just love this country. I want to open the eyes of the people to appreciate democracy and freedom.”
He attended Bible college at Sydney, developed his English skills and then lectured at the University of Technology before starting a full-time ministry in 2004.
He said his views on his former religion led to three attacks on his life.
His criticism of American President Barack Obama would be unpopular in many circles.
“Barack Obama, I wish he was really about moderate Muslims. He is encouraging radical Muslims such as the Brotherhood, which is behind many terrorist groups like Al Qaeda,” he said. “I’ve heard Muslim leaders call him the Islamic Messiah. Personally, I believe he is one of the anti-Christs.
“He himself is a remote control in the hands of other people.”
He warned large parts of the world were falling into the hands of “radical Muslims”.
“Their goal is to remove democracy and establish Islam. I worry about the future of western countries, the future of my family and my children,” he said.
“I have to talk, I can’t keep quiet. I have lived as one of them, I have lived that life. If I keep quiet, I’d be betraying Australia, which has been so nice to me and my family
“I’d be handing them into the hands of vicious radical Muslims. As the Koran 9 says, Muhammed says kill your family members if they do not believe in Islam.
“I’m really concerned. Islam is growing through marriage and ignorance.
“In many parts of Australia, Muslim leaders have many wives. One legal wife and the others are living in a defacto relationship with some 20 or 30 children.
“They’ll take over by stealth. Demography is their biggest weapon. They’re producing nine, ten children each. Their goal is to get the majority here.
“When they get to 10% of the population, then Australia faces a difficulty like France.
“Western countries have forgotten the democracy and freedom they have comes from Judeo-Christian values.
“In any possible way we have to close the door to radical Muslims whose aim is to destroy democracy.
“For me, Australia is a democratic country. If someone wants to live in bag and they’re not a threat, that’s fine.”
Haset Sali is a Sunshine Coast commercial lawyer. He is also the writer of The Holy Koran Simply: A Simple English Translation, and a former president of the Australian Federation of Islamic Societies (AFIC).
His understanding of the Koran differs significantly from Dr Shayesteh.
“Jesus and his mother Mary are spoken of in most reverent terms in the Koran,” he said
“We accept Jesus was born by immaculate conception, his mother became pregnant after the angel Gabriel visited.”
Mr Sali said he didn’t view himself as a “slave to Allah”.
“I don’t see myself as slave of God. I see myself as a person very respectful to the supreme creator of heavens and earth and everything within.”
He said Dr Shayesteh’s quotations concerning killing people who did not believe in Islam were “taken out of context”.
“The Bible says eye for eye and tooth for tooth. The Koran says something very similar, but in the next couple of verses it’s best if you forgive.” Like Dr Shayesteh, Mr Sali was concerned about fanatics, in all religions.
“There are fanatics everywhere and tragically Islam is going through an era similar to what the Christian religion went through in the 20th century when fascists killed Jews as they claimed they were responsible for Christ being crucified.”
He disagreed with the idea Muslim women were treated as less than men.
“Muhammad himself was an employee of his first wife,” he said.
Mr Sali said the he didn’t “condone any sort of violence, I condemn it”.
“There are fanatical groups, in every religion, I don’t condone fanaticism or terrorism and violence.”
He also said Islam was not anti-democratic.
“That’s absolute garbage. Where can he point to a clause in the Koran which demonstrates that?”