Thursday, September 23, 2010
Ahmadinejad gets standing no-vation at UN.
United Nations (CNN) -- Delegates from the United States and other nations walked out of the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a fiery speech that criticized Washington, capitalism and the world body itself.
Though incendiary statements from Ahmadinejad are nothing new, tension in the hall grew as the Iranian leader recounted various conspiracy theories about the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
"Some segments within the U.S. government orchestrated the attack," Ahmadinejad told the General Assembly. He followed with the claim that the attacks were aimed at reversing "the declining American economy and its scripts on the Middle East in order to save the Zionist regime. The majority of the American people, as well as most nations and politicians around the world, agree with this view."
That appeared to be the last straw for many of the diplomats. Representatives from the United States, Britain, Sweden, Australia, Belgium, Uruguay and Spain walked out while Ahmadinejad asserted that U.S. government was involved in the attacks or allowed them to happen as an excuse to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
President Barack Obama already had delivered his address to the General Assembly and had left the grounds before Ahmadinejad spoke. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president "found the comments to be outrageous and offensive, given how close we are to ground zero," the New York site of the attacks.
Mark Kornblau, a spokesman for the U.S. mission to the U.N., said in a statement, "Rather than representing the aspirations and goodwill of the Iranian people, Mr. Ahmadinejad has yet again chosen to spout vile conspiracy theories and anti-Semitic slurs that are as abhorrent and delusional as they are predictable."
A European Union diplomat said that all 27 member nations had agreed to walk out if Ahmadinejad made inflammatory statements during his address.
The exits did not deter the Iranian leader from his line of attack, however. Ahmadinejad went on to compare the death toll in the September 11 attacks to the casualty count in the wars in Afghanistan
"It was said that some 3,000 people were killed on September 11th, for which we are all very saddened," he said. "Yet, up until now in Afghanistan and Iraq, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, millions wounded and displaced, and the conflict is still going on and expanding."
Ahmadinejad also continued the attack on capitalism that he began during a Monday address at the Millennium Global Development Summit. He linked the U.S.-led conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan with wars for colonial expansion in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
The Iranian president also touched on the recent controversy over a Florida pastor's plans to burn copies of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, by waving copies of a Bible and a Quran as he declared his respect and reverence for both. And he concluded his address with a defense of Iran's nuclear ambitions, discussing a recently submitted statement to the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
New York (CNN) -- They journeyed to New York from faraway places, they said, to give voice to those who are silenced in their homeland.
They wanted to stand their ground before the United Nations, where Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was addressing the General Assembly.They called the Iranian president a terrorist. And a murderer.
"Azadi! Azadi!" they roared in Farsi. Freedom.
"Hazer! Hazer!" they chanted. Ready.
"We are ready for change," Moslem Filabi, a former Iranian wrestling champion, told the protesters gathered across the street from the United Nations at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.
One of them was Fateh Khazri, who said her father was imprisoned in Iran for alleged ties to dissidents. She had traveled from London, England, to state her opinion.
"Ahmadinejad is a terrorist. Ahmadinejad is a murderer. He must leave Iran," she said.
Mahyar Harsini came from Cologne, Germany. "People in our country, they don't have a voice," Harsini said. "We are here to talk for them because they are not able to."
The protest organizers, a coalition of Iranian-American groups who have gathered each time Ahmadinejad has visited the United Nations, are broadcasting the protest over satellite television and on the internet, allowing people in Iran to see the opposition to the Iranian regime.
"How can America let such a person into this place?" wondered Kamal Bayog of Luxembourg. "He must be expelled from the U.N."
Some demonstrators wore hats embroidered with the slogan, "Viva Rajavi" and carried pictures of Maryam Rajavi, leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, who lives in exile.
Purple flags and balloons supporting Rajavi's opposition floated overhead as she addressed the rally via satellite from Paris, France.
"I urge the U.N. to condemn the Iranian regime and their crimes, the worst humanitarian crimes," she said. "Those of you here are the brave ones representing Iran. Ahmadinejad is the enemy of Iran."
The crowd responded: "Rajavi, yes. Ahmadinejad, no."
Other demonstrators wore bloodied prison uniforms and nooses around their necks, symbols of the repression under the Islamic regime, they said. One woman sat surrounded by stones, used in Iran as a method of execution.
Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani also addressed the crowd. "You and your cause," he said, "are the best hope for Iran."
Posted by Steve Douglass at 7:26 PM