USA: Protestors gather outside Columbia University in New York the day before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to speakRecord ID: 313630
- Title: USA: Protestors gather outside Columbia University in New York the day before Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to speak
- Date: 24th September 2007
- Summary: (AM) NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, USA (SEPTEMBER 23, 2007) (AGENCY POOL) STATUE AT GATE OF COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY WITH CROWD PROTESTER TALKING TO ANOTHER PROTESTER VARIOUS PEOPLE WHO SAY IRANIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO SPEAK AT COLUMBIA ARGUING WITH THOSE WHO FEEL HE SHOULD
- Reuters ID: LVAJQMDDL7DLCUKERM6J7B13HHF
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Duration: 00:00:25
- Topics: International Relations
- Story Text: Tempers flare on the sidewalk outside Columbia University in New York when protesters who oppose Monday's visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad square off with those who support the school's decision to host a speech by the controversial leader.
Critics of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad protested on Sunday (September 23) in advance of his scheduled arrival in New York for speeches at Columbia University and the United Nations.
A small group of protesters gathered at the Ivy League university say the Iranian president has no business speaking at the school because he is trying to obtain nuclear weapons, is a Holocaust denier and rules his own country with an iron fist.
Ahmadinejad has called the Holocaust "a myth" and called for Israel to be "wiped off the map." The White House has said Iran sponsors terrorism and is trying to develop nuclear weapons, while Iran insists its atomic activities are aimed at producing energy.
Columbia has said Ahmadinejad has agreed to take questions and will be challenged to discuss his views on the Holocaust, Iran's nuclear ambitions and other issues.
Some counter-protesters clashed with Ahmedinejad opponents.
One girl said she would also allow "hitler" to come to speak in the US.
Protester Myron Meadow was outraged that the Ivy League university invited the Iranian leader.
"Let him speak on a street corner. That's fine. I have no objection to that! But for Columbia to lend its name to a guy who is the modern-day Hitler, denying the Holocaust, calling for the extermination of Israel," said Meadow.
Two students offered opposing views.
Birdy Sahagian said she felt that she can't disagree with him if she has not heard him first.
"I want to actually hear what he has to say, and then I can be really angry," she said.
But another student, Rachel Dor, said Ahmedinejad should not get the rights he denies his own citizens.
"Human rights are oppressed in his country and he's coming to Columbia to spread hate speech, to deny the Holocaust, and it is unacceptable," Dor said.
Columbia cancelled a planned Ahmadinejad appearance last year, citing security and logistical reasons. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said there were "efforts to cancel" the upcoming Columbia speech, but the Iranian government was continuing to pursue the program. He did not elaborate other than to say pressure was being brought to bear on the program's sponsors.
Protests were also scheduled tomorrow near Columbia and the United Nations, where the Iranian president is to address the General Assembly on Tuesday.
Ahmadinejad caused a stir earlier this week with a much-criticized request to lay a wreath at the World Trade Center site, an idea that prompted an outcry from politicians and Sept. 11 victims' families. Police denied the request, citing construction and security concerns.
For his part, Ahmadinejad said Sunday in Tehran, before leaving for New York, that the American people were eager to hear different opinions about the world, and he was looking forward to having the chance to voice them during his trip to the U.S., state media reported.
- Copyright Holder: POOL (CAN SELL)
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Embargoed:9th October 2007 13:00
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None