Politics

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Iranian President Rattles New York

September 25, 2007 02:52 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
New York City rejects President Ahmadinejad’s request to lay a wreath at the World Trade Center, and protests greet his appearance at Columbia University, as he arrives to discuss Iran’s nuclear program.

30-Second Summary

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Presidential candidates of both stripes quickly denounced the proposed visit to Ground Zero when the possibility was raised on Sept. 19. The next day, editorials in The New York Post and The New York Sun vehemently attacked the Iranian leader's suggestion.

Five days later, protesters gathered at the Columbia University campus, where Ahmadinejad was due to speak. Prior to his engagement there, The New York Sun reported that state lawmakers had talked of withholding funding from the university in response to its hosting the Iranian president.

The anger attendant on Ahmadinejad’s arrival has a number of causes. In the last two years, he has declared the Holocaust a “myth” and said that Israel should be “wiped off the map.” Also, the United States suspects Tehran of aiding insurgents in Iraq.

Then there is the issue of Iran’s nuclear program, which Ahmadinejad came to New York to discuss at the United Nations.

Considering Ahmadinejad’s record, Columbia’s invitation was sure to be controversial. After much criticism in the press, President Lee C. Bollinger chose to deliver a harsh rebuke to Ahmadinejad at the start of the event. "Mr. President," Bollinger said, "you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator."

Those words will not have satisfied all of Bollinger’s critics, as exemplified by Bret Stephens of The Wall Street Journal. Stephens wrote that Columbia’s conviction that the university was confronting Iran's leadership was naïve; "a bit like suggesting that one 'confronts' a wild animal by staring at it through its cage at a zoo.”

Headline Links: Ahmadinejad's New York itinerary

Reference Material: The World Leaders' Forum at Columbia

Reactions: Ahmadinejad and the presidential candidates

Opinion: Ahmadinejad at Columbia

Pro-Columbia
Contra-Columbia

Opinion: Ahmadinejad at Ground Zero

Counseling restraint
Zero Tolerance

Background: Ahmadinejad's outspoken career as president

May '06 letter to Bush

President Ahmadinejad wrote an eight-page letter to George Bush. He discussed several issues, including the attacks on the World Trade Center. The Iranian president described 9/11 as a “horrendous incident,” writing that the killing of innocent people was “deplorable.”

The letter also implied that the U.S. government had been involved in a cover-up regarding the atrocity: “Why have various aspects of the attacks been kept secret? Why are we not told who botched their responsibilities? And why aren’t those responsible and the guilty parties identified and put on trial?”
Ahmadinejad's December '05 speech

An Iranian news agency reported that Ahmadinejad gave a speech describing the Holocaust, in which the German Nazis killed six million Jews, as a “myth.”
Ahmadinejad's October '05 speech

Speaking in Tehran at a program called “The World Without Zionism,” Ahmadinejad declared that Israel should be "wiped off the map." 

Key Players: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Related Links: Iran's UN ambassador

History: Past controversial visitors to the UN

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