Many people know how Sizer nearly got arrested at Tehran airport for carrying Christian material. But let’s see what happened next.
Who was there to meet Rev Sizer at the airport? None other than Dr Javad Sharbaf, infamous for inviting Robert Faurisson to help him deny the Holocaust.
Next, Rev Sizer had Dr Ali Tavakoli guide him round Iran. Working in compliance with the Iranian government, Dr Tavakoli appears to have learned his lesson, following the Iranian regime’s decision to detain him when he was a member of the pro-reform Office to Consolidate Unity back in 1999 in response to student riots.
After meeting Armenian and Assyrian Christian clergy, Sizer finally gets to meet his host, the woman who invited him Ms Zahra Mostafavi. Mostafavi is the daughter of Ayatollah Khomeini, who once wrote a letter to Hassan Nasrallah imploring him to use children as suicide bombers. Rev Sizer then gives lectures in universities in Iran, plugs his book, meets Ayatollah Khomeini’s grandson, meets Ms Mostafavi again, and flies home.
Ms Mostafavi, outrageously, is translating Sizer’s book into Farsi!
There is, of course, a world of difference between most Iranian people and the likes of Dr Sharbaf and Dr Mostafavi. Yet Rev Sizer appears not to be able to see this. (Perhaps this is why Rev Sizer preached the evils of Christian Zionism to the Iranian establishment, rather than challenging state persecution of Iranian Christians.)
For Stephen Sizer, there are good countries (like Iraq, Iran and Palestine) and bad countries (the USA, UK and Israel). For Sizer Israel is a bad, fascist state, in which most Israelis prefer land-grabs to peace. On the flip side, Iran is a good country misunderstood and demonised by the West.
Yet Sizer’s line of logic can only apply to the most simplistic bigot who would dare to view entire nations as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Sizer is right to point out the vibrancy and friendliness of Iran, but at the same time, his dalliances with Iranian clerics and politicians and his defence of Iran’s nuclear programme only play into the hands of the Iranian Mahdis responsible for the brutal repression of the Iranian people.
These same callous leaders are also responsible for the precarious situation which Iran finds itself in, and may end up dragging their people into conflict with the West. Many in and out of Iran hope and pray for reform and change, and an end to the Khomeinist project. Many hope that power in Iran will one day be in the hands of sensible and sensitive individuals who will treat their own citizens and the international community with the same respect they would demand for themselves.
When that day comes, one imagines Rev Sizer won’t get an invite back.