View Full Version : Columbia University Urged To Cancel Ahmadinejad Speech Over Holocaust Denial

09-21-2007, 07:56 AM
Columbia University urged to cancel Ahmadinejad speech over Holocaust denial


(Gold9472: I don't actually think of Ahmadinejad as a "Holocaust Denier." If you've actually listened to the things he's said, he has basically made the argument that Israel has used the Holocaust to the detriment of all of the countries surrounding it. We suffered through the Holocaust, therefore we are entitled to things you are not. He is certainly not like other "Holocaust Deniers" I've run into.)

By Reuters

Columbia University was urged on Thursday to withdraw a speaking invitation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who will be in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

New York City Council speaker Christine Quinn wrote to the university urging them to cancel Ahmadinejad's planned speech on Monday, which is part of Columbia's World Leaders Forum. "Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier," she wrote.

On Wednesday New York police said Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, had been denied a request to visit the World Trade Center site of the Sept. 11 attacks during his visit.

Quinn said universities should be a forum for a healthy exchange of differing ideas, but that there were limits.

"An exchange of ideas should not include state sponsored terrorism and hate speech. He can say whatever he wants on any street corner, but should not be given center stage at one of New York's most prestigious centers of higher education."

Columbia did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Its Web site says the Forum aims to foster public debate on key economic, political and social questions.

U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey said Washington does not dictate to universities who should and should not be allowed speak at such events.

"We have no particular desire to censor anyone's ideas. I wish I could say the same for Iran," Casey told reporters.

Other speakers at the Columbia event include the presidents of Turkmenistan, Malawi, Chile and Georgia.

When he came to New York for last year's General Assembly Ahmadinejad spoke at a closed event hosted by the influential Council on Foreign Relations think tank. The meeting was boycotted by leaders of several Jewish groups.

Senator John McCain, a Republican presidential candidate, recalled U.S. charges that Iran has been supporting militants in Iraq with weapons and explosives.

"A man who is directing the maiming and killing of Americans troops should not be given an invitation to speak at an American university," McCain said on Thursday, adding that Columbia should not be "rolling out the red carpet for the leader of a terrorist-sponsoring regime."

President George W. Bush, asked to comment on the decision not to allow the visit to the World Trade Center site, told reporters in Washington: "I can understand why they would not want somebody that's running a country who's a state sponsor of terror down there at the site."

In 2002 Bush labeled Iran as part of an "axis of evil" that also included Iraq and North Korea and has accused it of backing international terrorist groups.

The United States and other Western powers also say Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists it wants nuclear technology only for civilian electricity generation.

Ahmadinejad, who took office in 2005, railed against U.S. aggression in his speech to the United Nations last year, and then reveled in sparring with critics at the Council on Foreign Relations.

At that event, The New York Times quoted Ahmadinejad as repeatedly questioning evidence of the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed by the Nazis.