Like many in the world, Daniel Shayesteh closely watched this week’s U.S. visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
But his is a different vantage point.
Three decades ago, the Iranian-born Shayesteh, 53, joined forces with those supporting Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeni to topple the Shah of Iran and install Islamic rule.
“Generally speaking, my background is radical Islam,” he says.
No more. After fleeing Iran because of a falling-out with the religious regime, Shayesteh says he underwent a conversion to Christianity.
He now travels internationally to raise awareness about what he calls “the dangers of Islam,” and he puts Ahmadinejad squarely in that category.
“He is just a liar. Unfortunately, lying in Islam is accepted for the sake of (advancing the) religion,” Shayesteh says.
“He is a dictator and has the mind of a suicide bomber, really. He is the servant of the Supreme Leader in Iran (Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and does what he says.”
Shayesteh, who will visit Fort Wayne on Oct. 27 at the invitation of Praise Lutheran Church, believes people in Western, Judeo-Christian cultures must become aware of radical Islam’s tenets and plans so they can protect their societies.
He calls Islam “a very hierarchical system of belief” that has no room for personal freedom or democratic values. These views, he says, have earned him death threats from the religion’s radical elements.
Freedom, especially religious freedom, “is the target of Islam,” he says.
“When you read the Quran, it says that you must destroy other religions, Jews and Christians. … You cannot expect them to value your values.”
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