Last week many global leaders joined an interfaith dialogue initiative led by King Abdullah the Saudi Monarch. The fact that leaders have acknowledged the imperative of dialogue as a remedy to current inflictions is in itself a positive development. The fact that erroneous Western policies towards the Muslim world have been criticized by Arab leaders who are renown for their Western alignment is also noteworthy. However the fact that such an initiative would be led by leaders who do not have a prominent role in the Islamic world and who have not followed such initiatives in their political careers is questionable. It takes the whole initiative to the level of empty rhetoric with no practical backing.
Today, in the absence of personalities such as President Khatami who put forward the policy of Dialogue Among Civilizations and led an initiative which was warmly welcomed by the global community and is still followed in academic and independent circles , it is natural that self proclaimed leaders would step forward and fill the gap. The outcome is however essentially different. Before being considered as a politician President Khatami is considered to be a thinker and scholar of political and religious science. He has enough theoretical backing for what he has proclaimed . He considers his progressive pro-democracy Islamic thought to be a natural outcome of the Islamic Revolution. For eight years, he displayed in practice, the example of a political leader with robust ethical principles who stands as a role model for Islamic leadership. President Khatami is still a popular figure, among young Iranians he is a beacon of hope for those who aspire to see the prosperity of Iran's Islamic Democracy.