Wiki Actu en

September 25, 2007

Iranian President Ahmadinejad speaks at Columbia University

Iranian President Ahmadinejad speaks at Columbia University

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ahmadinejad addresses the University.
Image: Daniella Zalcman.

Invited to participate in a debate at Columbia University during his visit to New York City this week to address the United Nations General Assembly, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad engaged University president Lee Bollinger on a number of topics, including his country’s human rights record, opinions on Israel and the Holocaust and the role of nuclear weapons and terrorism on the global stage. The Iranian president’s speech was marked by protests, but also drew applause from students.

Bollinger opened the debate addressing critics, stating that “To those who believe that this event should never have happened, that it is inappropriate for the university to conduct such an event, I want to say that I understand your perspective and respect it as reasonable…it is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. This is the right thing to do and indeed, it is required by the existing norms of free speech”

Bollinger then gave his opening address, turning to Ahmadinejad and stating:

Cquote1.svg Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator, and so I ask you, why have women, members of the Bahá’í Faith, homosexuals and so many of our academic colleagues become targets of persecution in your country?”

“Why do you support well-documented terrorist organizations that continue to strike at peace and democracy in the Middle East, destroying lives and the civil society of the region? Frankly, and in all candor Mr. President, I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions, but your avoiding them will in itself be meaningful to us. I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mind-set that characterizes what you say and do.


After reciting the Bismillah and asking for guidance from God, Ahmadinejad countered that “In Iran, tradition requires that when we invite a person to be a speaker, we actually respect our students and the professors by allowing them to make their own judgment and we don’t think it’s necessary before the speech is even given to come in with a series of claims…”

Ahmadinejad’s most pointed arguments, though, were directed at the administration of George W. Bush. “They do not respect the privacy of their own people. They tap telephone calls … They create an insecure psychological atmosphere, in order to justify their war-mongering acts in different parts of the world.”

The Iranian president attacked what he considered to be errors of American imperialism. “By using precise scientific methods and planning, they begin their onslaught on the domestic cultures of nations, which are the result of thousands of years of interaction, creativity and artistic activity. They try to eliminate these cultures in order to strip people of their identity.”

Ahmadinejad questioned U.S. nuclear policy. “Making nuclear, chemical and biological bombs and weapons of mass destruction is yet another result of the misuse of science and research by the big powers.” He added, “Without the cooperation of certain scientists and scholars, we would not have witnessed production of different nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Are these weapons to protect global security? What can a perpetual nuclear umbrella achieve for the sake of humanity? If nuclear war is waged between nuclear powers, what human catastrophe will take place?”

Student Sunsara Taylor saw the event as just an instrument in the larger symphony of American imperialism.
Image: David Shankbone.

In a rebuttal to claims that his country oppressed women and homosexuals, Ahmadinejad responded by claiming “It is wrong for some governments, when they disagree with another government, to…spread lies”, pointing to the fact that over 50% of Iranian voters are female, and the two female Vice Presidents. When challenged by Bollinger for Iran’s treatment of gays he stated that “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country,” drawing laughter from the audience. “In Iran we do not have this phenomenon, I don’t know who has told you that we have it.”

He framed questioning of the Holocaust as stifled academic debate: “Right now, there are a number of European academics who have been sent to prison because they attempted to write about the Holocaust or research it from a different perspective, questioning certain aspects of it,” later adding that “you shouldn’t ask me why I’m asking questions, you should ask yourselves why you…want to stop. Do you ever take what is known as absolute in physics? We had principles in mathematics that were granted to be absolute for over 800 years, but new science has…gone forward.”

The first question from the audience addressed the controversial issue of the leader’s position on Israel. Ahmadinejad did not directly respond to the subject of Israel – stating “We love all nations. We love the Jewish people. There are many Jews living in Iran, with peace and security.”, and concluded that it was not a question of Israel’s right to exist, but of Palestinian self-determination.

Countering claims that his country supports terrorism, he replied, “We’re a cultured nation. We don’t need to resort to terrorism. We’ve been victims of terrorism ourselves. It’s regrettable that people who argued they are fighting terrorism — instead of supporting the Iranian nation — are supporting the terrorists and then turn the finger at us.”

The final question from the audience asked whether Iran would engage in talks with the United States, to which he replied “If the U.S. government recognizes the rights of the Iranian people, respects all nations and extends a hand of friendship to all Iranians, they will see that Iranians will be among their best friends.”

In closing, Ahmadinejad extended gratitude and thanks to the University, and welcomed both students and faculty to attend Iranian universities and give lectures themselves to the students.

Related news

  • “Protests mark Ahmadinejad’s visit to Columbia University” — Wikinews, September 25, 2007


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

External links

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons has media about .


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

December 26, 2005

Iranian Baha\’i dies in jail

Filed under: Archived,Baha'i,Iran,Middle East,Obituaries,Religion — admin @ 5:00 am

Iranian Baha’i dies in jail – Wikinews, the free news source

Iranian Baha’i dies in jail

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Monday, December 26, 2005

The Bahá’í International Community has claimed that a Bahá’í has died in mysterious circumstances in jail in Yazd, Iran.

Dhabihu’llah Mahrami was arrested in 1995 and convicted by an Iranian court of “apostasy” – converting from Islam to another religion. He was sentenced to death, but following protests from the international community the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1999.

Mahrami was a lifelong Bahá’í, who was fired from his civil service job after the Iranian revolution in 1979 on grounds of his religion. An article later appeared in a local newspaper stating he had converted to Islam, but Mahrami claimed this had been written by colleague and he had always remained a Bahá’í. After he had repeated this publicly, he was arrested and charged with apostasy. Iranian authorities later claimed he was jailed for spying for Israel, but this was contradicted by the court documents.

The Bahá’í community claims that Mahrami had no known health concerns at the time of his death, but had been forced to do arduous labour in prison and had received death threats. They say they hold the Iranian authorities responsible for his death and his only crime was belief in his religion.

They claim the Bahá’í community in Iran has suffered an increase in persecution this year, with 59 Bahá’ís arrested so far.



This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

November 20, 2005

Tunisian Muslim says apologise to Baha\’is

Filed under: Archived,Baha'i,Religion — admin @ 5:00 am

Tunisian Muslim says apologise to Baha’is

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Sunday, November 20, 2005

A Tunisian Muslim academic has called on Muslims to reconcile with Baha’is and followers of other religions. He has also called on involved Muslims to apologise to the Baha’is that have been humiliated and denigrated in Muslim coutries.

Dr Iqbal Al-Gharbi, a psychology lecturer at the Al-Zaytouna University in Tunis said that many peoples across the world were asking for forgiveness for past wrongs, such as the Catholic Church, who asked for forgiveness for its treatment of Jewish people, and France which apologised for the complicity of the Vichy regime. She said that, Muslims, by contrast, usually consider themselves to be the victims and usually innocent of any wrongs.

Al-Gharbi said Muslims should reconcile with Christian and Jewish minorities who lived in Muslim countries, and to Africans who suffered in the Arab slave trade. She said they should also reconcile with “small schools of Islamic thought” such as the Ismaili, Baha’i, Alawite and Druze.

Baha’is do not consider themselves to be a school of Islam but instead an independent world religion. They protest persecution in Iran (which has the largest Baha’i population of any Muslim-majority country) including execution, imprisonment, torture, deprivation of property and exclusion from education.

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom stated in its 2005 report that Baha’is are repressed in Iran and Egypt, and face execution, imprisonment and discrimination. Forum 18, the Norwegian human rights organisation has also reported discrimination against Baha’is in Muslim-dominated Azerbaijan and Turkey.

The Government of Iran maintains that the Baha’i Faith is not a religion but an “espionage establishment”, with links to the Israeli, British and American governments. Other Muslims consider Baha’is to be apostates – Muslims who have abandoned their religion – and this justifies discrimination.


  • Baha’i International Community. “Persecution” — 
  • United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. “Annual Report 2005” — United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, May 2, 2005

See also

  • Archive of all stories on Forum 18 regarding the Baha’i Faith and religious discrimination:


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Powered by WordPress