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FT: "In Iran when you invite a guest you respect him" says Ahmadinejad in Columbia University

Iranian leader seeks to cool talk of war
By Daniel Dombey in Washington and Harvey Morris at the United Nations and Daniel Pimlott in New York

Published: September 24 2007 21:47 | Last updated: September 25 2007 00:07

Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, Iran’s president, kicked off his trip to the United Nations and New York on Monday by denouncing protesters against his visit and discounting talk of war with the US.

His arrival was hailed by one US tabloid as “The Evil Has Landed”, and he was likened to a “petty and cruel dictator” by Lee Bollinger, Columbia University’s president, at a controversial speaking engagement at the university.

But despite the barrage of hostile questions, Mr Ahmadi-Nejad was confident and combative – if not precise.

“In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals, like in your country,” he said after being asked about the death penalty for homosexual behaviour. “I don’t know who’s told you that we have it.”

He also said Iran had the “freest people in the world”, seeking to contrast his country’s standards with the complaints in the US against his own visit.

“I’m surprised that in a place that claims to have freedom of information, they are trying to prevent people from talking,” he said at the US’s National Press Club before his visit to Columbia. “That’s not good.”

He believed that the backlash against his visit had been provoked by “pro-[US] government members of the press”, and complained that the New York authorities had not permitted him to visit Ground Zero, site of the attacks of September 11 2001. “I was interested in expressing my sympathy to the victims of that tragedy,” he said.

Mr Ahmadi-Nejad’s movements have excited a furious response from some Americans.

“Columbia is basically sponsoring the kick-off concert for Ahmadi-Nejad’s ‘Death to America’ tour,” said Peter Johnson, a former senior research fellow at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.

President George W. Bush said: “He’s the head of a state sponsor of terror...and yet an institution in our country gives him a chance to express his point of view, which really speaks to the freedom of the ­country.”

Despite protesters outside, Mr Ahmadi-Nejad was frequently applauded during his appearance at Columbia; however, so were some of the hostile questions levelled at him. “In Iran when you invite a guest you respect him,” Mr Ahmadi-Nejad said, complaining about the introductory remarks by Mr Bollinger, which the Iranian president described as an “insult”.

He denied that Iran sponsored terrorism, arguing: “We don’t need to resort to terrorism; we have been victims of terrorism.” But he refused to give a simple answer to whether Iran sought the destruction of Israel, saying instead that Palestinians should be asked in a referendum what they wanted for the future.

Mr Ahmadi-Nejad also insisted there should be more “research” on the Holocaust. “Can we close the books for good on a historical event?” he asked.

“It made Columbia look pretty stupid,” said Fergus Scully, a student at Columbia, referring to Mr Ahmadi-Nejad’s comment about homosexuals. “It’s insulting when a speaker is invited for debate and rational discussion, and he isn’t rational. We were spoken to like a child.”

At the National Press Club, Mr Ahmadi-Nejad also played down talk of war.

Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, said last week that the world should prepare for the worst in the crisis over Iran’s nuclear programme and said “the worst is war”, although he subsequently softened the tone of his remarks.

“The talk of war is basically a propaganda tool...Why is there a need for war?” Mr Ahmadi-Nejad said. “Give the foreign minister more experience in his new post, and then he can talk with a higher level of maturity.”

“There’s no war in the offing,” he had earlier told the CBS network. “It’s wrong to think that Iran and the US are walking towards war.”

On Monday he rejected repeated claims by the US military that Iran was smuggling weapons into Iraq.

“We think the military should seek an answer to its defeat in Iraq elsewhere,” he said. “Are you telling me that the US military is defeated by two or three weapons like these?”

Mr Ahmadi-Nejad is to address the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday to try to assure member states that Iran’s nuclear programme is peaceful.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2007


Click to view image: '99415-mahmoud.jpg'

Added: Sep-25-2007 
By: LiveLick
In:
Iraq, Iran
Tags: Iran, Columbia University, insult, Ahmadinejad
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  • exactly.
    embarassed

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • he sounds just like the whining welfare queens we have here in the US who are always crying ... "Yuz dissed me man"

    Maybe the day they learn that respect is earned and NOT a right, they may grow out of their infantile reactions? Nah - that takes some intelligence.

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • bush is pawned! now, please tell mr bush to visit in iran.

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • spadata: "he sounds just like the whining welfare queens we have here in the US who are always crying ... "Yuz dissed me man"

    Maybe the day they learn that respect is earned and NOT a right, they may grow out of their infantile reactions? Nah - that takes some intelligence.

    "
    Do you think making fun of poor people earns respect? Maybe trashing invited guests then? A brilliant example of US brash rude behaviour.

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • fuck him he destroyed my country

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • lasrever: "I'd like to see President Bush do the same thing in Iran. Let him answer all the hostile questions out there.

    I don't trust the President of Iran's words and some of his statements are obviously fallacious. But he comes out the better man whenever we stomp on our own First Amendment or insult and chide a real or supposed enemy.

    The American media is too mentally handicapped and corporatized. "He's an evil demon" type statements work for children and ignoramuses but not for educated adults."
    W More..

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • Lee Bollinger is a coward hebe.

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • RabidMarsupial: "
    lasrever: "I'd like to see President Bush do the same thing in Iran. Let him answer all the hostile questions out there.

    I don't trust the President of Iran's words and some of his statements are obviously fallacious. But he comes out the better man whenever we stomp on our own First Amendment or insult and chide a real or supposed enemy.

    The American media is too mentally handicapped and corporatized. "He's an evil demon" type statements work for children and ignoramuses but not for educated adults."
    W More..
    I haven't seen it but I'm not for that kind of demonizing. If you're going to criticize hit them with facts and let that be the criticism. If the facts are wrong then you go back, recheck, and acknowledge and thank the other person for correcting you.

    If it's humorous demonizing I suppose that isn't so bad. That's part of our culture. But malicious is different.

    I read Petraeus' record and I highly respect him for his accomplishments. But I also think he is parroting whatever the administration is telling him.

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • Ahmadenejad is a terrorist leader..

    and islam is an evil cult which seeks to deceive all..

    especially their own ignorant muslims..

    all those who opted out of islam are either killed or murdered...

    mohammed is a rapist..

    wanna know more?


    all of these truths are derived from isalmic books like the ishaq, bukhari, qur'an

    www.prophetofdoom.net

    IRan is running a campaign of deception..

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • "In Iran when you invite a guest you respect him"

    The rest of this quote should read "Then kill him for being a infidel"

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • Ahmadenejad has clearly never done anything like this before in a country where people can say whatever they like.

    Brought him down a notch or two. Fuck him.

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • The Truth About Islam - From A Muslim Source:

    www.AnsweringProphetOfDoom.net

    Posted Oct-11-2007 By 

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  • Comment of user 'smeblee' has been deleted by author (after account deletion)!
  • not when he or she is a terrorist..

    Posted Nov-24-2007 By 

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  • smeblee: "
    let him do want he wants, while visiting even ground zero, keep the vameras on him, if he says or does something stupid, it will be to his own demise, this is a definate PR trip, I feel Bush is playing into his hands..
    "
    Too late

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • this chimp should have shaved first.

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • robert deniro lookalike.

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • uziman2: "Ahmadenejad is a terrorist leader..

    and islam is an evil cult which seeks to deceive all..

    especially their own ignorant muslims..

    all those who opted out of islam are either killed or murdered...

    mohammed is a rapist..

    wanna know more?


    all of these truths are derived from isalmic books like the ishaq, bukhari, qur'an

    www.prophetofdoom.net

    IRan is running a campaign of deception..



    "
    Shut up till you grow up son .

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • One question...how many people protested ?..i mean
    I remenber those protest againts the war, and the
    media always acted like it was blind and deaf..but
    in this case..they are doing a great job.

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • I'd like to see President Bush do the same thing in Iran. Let him answer all the hostile questions out there.

    I don't trust the President of Iran's words and some of his statements are obviously fallacious. But he comes out the better man whenever we stomp on our own First Amendment or insult and chide a real or supposed enemy.

    The American media is too mentally handicapped and corporatized. "He's an evil demon" type statements work for children and ignoramuses but not for educated a More..

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • good thing he isn't in Iran. In america we treat people as they should be treated. So since so much controversy surrounds him, then comments should be controversial.

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • I never trust a man whose eyes are that close together...

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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  • It's called "framing the debate". Here's how it works: You're an asshole. Now discuss. That Ahmadinejad stayed and spoke after being introduced as though he were Hitler, is nothing shy of impressive. In Persian culture, the guest is honoured, revered, and given the best of everything- as any American would find out, were they to visit Iran. Unfortunately, for other cultures where guests are quaintly well-treated, this is yet another example of US rudeness and lack of class.

    A More..

    Posted Sep-25-2007 By 

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