Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Reuters

The foreign minister of Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism worldwide, on Monday blamed Western democracies for being responsible for Muslim terrorism by not being able to stop the recruitment of jihadists in their countries.

In a speech before the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who is leading negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, accused the West of "selectivity and double standards" in its dealings with the Muslim world, suggesting a bit of "soul-searching," reports AFP.

Western democracies, he said, should ponder "why quite a sizable number of individuals and groups espousing extremist ideologies and engaged in acts of brutal terror and heinous violence...happen to be second generation citizens of Western democracies."

"It is frightening that Daesh terrorists, beheading innocent civilians, speak European languages with a native accent," he said, using the Arabic
acronym for the Islamic State (ISIS) group.

Widespread recruitment of radicalized Muslim youths fighting with ISIS and other extremists groups, he warned, is a consequence of "a systematic failure, which has led to marginalization, alienation and disenfranchisement of individuals and groups born, raised and educated in Western democracies."

Observers say some 20,000 foreign fighters have left their homelands to join extremist groups in the past few years - including an estimated 4,000 since 2012 from western Europe.

Lacking from Zarif's criticism of ISIS and other Sunni terrorist groups is mention of his country's direct support of Shi'ite terrorist groups from Hezbollah in Lebanon to the Houthis in Yemen, and of other terrorist organizations such as Hamas in Gaza.

Blaming the West for terrorists in the Middle East

Zarif also insisted that the "organizations of mass murder" terrorizing the Middle East had initially emerged as "freedom fighters" to counter foreign interventions in a range of countries in the region.

"These groups owe their inception and growth to the shortsightedly defined security and strategic interests of certain regional and global players," he said.

In a veiled swipe at the United States and its allies over their push for democracy in the Middle East that has been appraised as having widely failed, he charged that countries had used human rights as a "disguise for broad social, political and strategic engineering to transform the region and undermine governments deemed to be unfriendly."

"Make no mistake, the so-called Islamic State of today, which is neither Islamic nor a state by the way, is composed of the so-called freedom fighters of only a couple of years ago," he said.

Zarif, who was meeting US Secretary of State John Kerry later Monday for a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program, also accused the West of double standards when it comes to discrimination.

"While racism and anti-Semitism are rightly condemned and even penalized, widespread instances of Islamophobia and blatant disregard for the values, beliefs and sanctities of Muslim citizens of many societies are not only tolerated but even publicly glorified as freedom of expression," he said.

"And we all see the catastrophic consequence," he added, in an apparent reference to the lethal Muslim terrorist attack on satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo's Paris offices in January.

Making Zarif's comment all the more questionable is the fact that aside from making cartoons of Mohammed, the founder of Islam, the satirical magazine routinely took jabs at Christianity and Judaism.

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