When I agreed to host a television program on Islam and contemporary life, I chose the path of critical debate. I accepted no obligations. My guests have included atheists, rabbis, priests, women with and without headscarves, all invited to debate issues like freedom, reason, interfaith dialogue, Sunni versus Shia Islam, violence, jihad, love and art, to name only a few. I challenge my critics to scrutinise these programmes and to find the slightest evidence in them of support for the Iranian regime. My programme proclaims its openness to the world; all guests are treated with equal respect.[…]
I have always taken full responsibility for my views; I have never supported either dictatorship or injustice in any Muslim majority society, or anywhere else for that matter. As for those who condemn me ‘on principle’ for hosting a television programme on an Iranian network, I reply: to work for a country’s television network does not mean support of that country’s regime. Were things so straightforward my detractors, those paragons of political virtue, would have long ago insisted that the government of the Netherlands sever all political and economic ties with Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel or China.
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