President's visit stirs row
Photo: AP

Ahmadinejad to face stormy rallies in NY

US citizens, Jewish groups outraged by Iranian president's anticipated arrival in the city Sunday and Columbia University's decision to host him as speaker. Columbia dean says, 'We would have invited Hitler, too'

WASHINGTON – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will arrive in New York Sunday, in order to participate in the United Nations General Assembly in the city.


Aside from his anticipated speech at the general assembly on Tuesday, the Iranian president is also scheduled to speak at Columbia University on Monday morning.


Ahmadinejad is scheduled to address some 600 university students during his speech, including Jewish students, who will express their opinions on Ahmadinejad’s policies regarding Israel, and the fact that he is a Holocaust denier.


However, New York City council members and public officials planned to gather at Columbia’s main gate Sunday afternoon, in protest of the scheduled lecture.


Furthermore, the Conference of Presidents and the United Jewish Communities (UJC) planned to hold a large rally in the city Monday.


Nevertheless, Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger has already stated that he had no intention of “folding” under pressure from the public against Ahmadinejad’s controversial visit.


“Columbia, as a community dedicated to learning and scholarship, is committed to confronting ideas—to understand the world as it is and as it might be. To fulfill this mission we must respect and defend the rights of our schools, our deans and our faculty to create programming for academic purposes,” Bollinger explained in a statement.


“Necessarily, on occasion this will bring us into contact with beliefs many, most or even all of us will find offensive and even odious. We trust our community, including our students, to be fully capable of dealing with these occasions, through the powers of dialogue and reason,” he continued.


The university's dean John H. Coatsworth went a step further and told Fox News that the institute would have invited Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler to appear before students had he been willing to participate in an open debate.


Many US citizens are outraged by Ahmadinejad's visit to the country, but the US is committed, as the UN General Assembly's host country, to allow any foreign leader arrive at the organization's headquarters in New York.


פרסום ראשון: 09.23.07, 07:27
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