Canadian diplomats walked out Wednesday as Iranian President Mah-moud Ahmadinejad subjected the United Nations to more of his trademark political vitriol and Tehran warned its citizens to steer clear of Canada for fear of rampant "Iranophobia."
The Canadians also walked out on Ahmadinejad last year, but tensions are running higher than ever between the two countries after Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird shuttered Canada's embassy in Iran three weeks ago.
"We will not sit silently in our chairs and listen to Iran's hateful, anti-Western, anti-Semitic views," Baird's press secretary, Rick Roth, said in a statement. "If anything, today's address only reinforces our decision earlier this month to suspend diplomatic relations with Iran." Ahmadinejad didn't mention Canada by name during his speech, but a statement posted Wednesday by the Islamic Republic News Agency, Iran's official news agency, was making headlines all the same.
The statement, attributed to Iran's Foreign Ministry, warned Iranian citizens against travel-ling to Canada, citing "Islamo-phobia," "Iranophobia" and a "double standard" in Canada toward human rights.
On Sept. 7, Baird announced Canada had shut down its embassy in Tehran and ordered personnel at the Iranian embassy in Ottawa to get out of the country within five days.
"There have been cases of arrest and expulsion of Iranian expatriates under various pre-texts and Iranians are deprived of their basic rights to continue with their ordinary activities, including the right to access their banking accounts and do ordinary transactions," the Foreign Ministry statement said.
"Regarding unilateral action of Canadian government to close down the visa section of Canadian embassy in Tehran in May and consequently closure of the embassy and Iranian embassy in Ottawa in August, Iranian expatriates should be fully alert of the cases of abuse and possible threats and continued discriminatory measures of the Canadian government."
In the past, Ahmadinejad has used the UN spotlight to attack Israel, cast doubt on the Holocaust and question American accounts of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. There was more of the same in Wednesday's speech.
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