Monday, 20 April 2009

Walkout at Iran leader's criticism of Israel

See footage of the walkout at Iran leader's speech on racism at UN conference - BBC news - 'Walkout at Iran leader's speech'.
Mr Ahmadinejad, the only major leader to attend the conference, said Jewish migrants from Europe and the United States had been sent to the Middle East after World War II "in order to establish a racist government in the occupied Palestine".
He continued, through an interpreter: "And in fact, in compensation for the dire consequences of racism in Europe, they helped bring to power the most cruel and repressive racist regime in Palestine." […]

Two protesters, wearing coloured wigs, disrupted the start of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech - followed by a mass walkout of Western delegates.
[Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continued,] "The UN security council has stabilised this occupation regime and supported it in the last 60 years giving them a free hand to continue their crimes," he told delegates at the Durban Review Conference hall in Geneva. [...]

"The Iraqi people have suffered enormous losses ... wasn't the military action against Iraq planned by the Zionists ... in the US administration, in complicity with the arms manufacturing companies?". Many delegates who remained in the hall applauded Ahmadinejad's comments. […]

Alan Fisher, Al Jazeera's correspondent at the conference, said Ahmadinejad had reiterated his views on Israel, especially over its 22-day war on Gaza. He said: "At the time [of the offensive] he said what was going on in Gaza was a genocide ... this was an opportunity for him to say that at a world forum. "There are people in the hall who believe that what Ahmadinejad was saying is correct - that is why there is such a split here." […]

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, condemned Ahmadinejad's "speech of hate" and called for a "firm and united" reaction from the European Union. Jonas Gahr Store, Norway's foreign minister, said the Iranian leader's comments had "run counter to the very spirit of dignity of the conference ... he made Iran the odd man out".

The speech by Ahmadinejad, who is a frequent critic of Israel and has cast doubt on the extent of the killing of Jews during the Second World War, coincided with Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel, which begins at sundown on Monday.
The United States, Canada, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Poland and the Netherlands, had earlier said they would not attend the conference amid fears Ahmadinejad would use the summit to propagate anti-Semitic views. […]

The UN organised the summit to help heal the wounds left by its last racism conference in Durban, South Africa, in 2001, when the US and Israel walked out after Arab states sought to define Zionism as being racist.
France's foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, speaking before Ahmadinejad's speech, said "we will not tolerate any blunder or provocation" from Ahmadinejad, who has referred to the Holocaust as a myth and called for Israel to be "wiped off the pages of history". […]

The Foreign Office said in a statement, also released before the speech: "The United Kingdom has argued strongly for the concluding document to contain adequate language on Holocaust remembrance and combating antisemitism. We will find unacceptable any attempt to use the Durban process to trivialise or deny the Holocaust, or to renegotiate agreements on the fight against antisemitism." […]

Ahmadinejad's speech and press conference will be carefully scrutinised for his tone towards the US after Barack Obama's recent overtures to Tehran. The Iranian president has ruled out compromise on Iran's nuclear programme, but has occasionally raised hopes of a thaw in US-Iranian relations, as he did yesterday when he insisted that an Iranian-American journalist, sentenced by an Iranian court to eight years in prison on espionage charges, should be guaranteed the full right to defend herself in her appeal. The Iranian government today urged Obama not to comment on the case.

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