USA/VARIOUS: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at prestigious Ivy League university, protests, wrap
- Title: USA/VARIOUS: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at prestigious Ivy League university, protests, wrap
- Date: 25th September 2007
- Summary: (W5) NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK USA (SEPTEMBER 24, 2007) (AGENCY POOL) (SOUNDBITE) (English) IRANIAN PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD SAYING: "Regretfully, some groups had very strong and bad reactions. It's bad to prevent someone to show sympathy to victims of the families of the September 11th event. Someone told me this was an insult, I said what are you saying, this is my way of showing respect. Thinking like this how do you expect to manage the world and world affairs?"
- Reuters ID: LVA8E8JNVOJT6EDBDT2Y3LHCW2WJ
- Duration: 00:00:34
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- Topics: International Relations
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- Story Text: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was labelled a "petty and cruel dictator" at a prestigious Ivy League university in the U.S. on Monday (September 25), where he defended his questioning of the Holocaust, Iran's right to a nuclear program, and his desire to visit the site of the World Trade Center attacks.
New York's Columbia University president Lee Bollinger's invitation to speak at the university sparked a high-profile debate in America over freedom of speech and its limits. In his lengthy introductory comments, Professor Bollinger attacked Ahmadinejad, after which the Iranian President criticized the university president's comments throughout his speech.
"I think the text read by the dear gentleman here, more than addressing me, was an insult to information and the knowledge of the audience here, present here," the president said.
During his speech, Ahmadinejad defended Iran's right to a nuclear program.
"We are one of the countries that has cooperated most with the IAEA. They've had hours and weeks and days of inspections in our country and over and over again the agency reports indicate that they have not detected a deviation and that they have received positive cooperation from Iran. But regretfully, two or three monopolistic, selfish powers want to force their word on the Iranian people and deny them their right."
Asked about his views on the Holocaust, Mr. Ahmadinejad said, "If it is a reality, why shouldn't we still question whether the Palestinian people should be paying for it or not?"
The Iranian President said that Iran is a country based on moral values, and that homosexuality does not exist in his country. He also noted that he is open to talks with the U.S. and the only countries Iran has ever ruled out relations with are Israel and South Africa.
During his speech at Columbia, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the campus, as well as outside the United Nations headquarters.
Outside the United Nations, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni joined the crowds, saying that the Iranian President has to be stopped, so that the Holocaust will never be repeated.
At the Columbia campus people lined the entrance to the university, many holding signs that compared Ahmadinejad to Adolf Hitler.
"There's no question that he is the Hitler of our generation and everyone should be out here protesting. He should be greeted with handcuffs, not a red carpet," said protester Mark Kramer.
Another protester, Ellen Jenkins, was disappointed that Columbia would host Ahmadinejad, who has perviously denied that the Holocaust happened.
Ahmadinejad is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, which runs throughout the week.
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- Embargoed:10th October 2007 13:00