“Extremist and unacceptable.”
Those are just two of the international reactions to the Iranian President’s latest verbal onslaught on Israel. Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was among those protesting at Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s remarks at a UN conference on fighting racism.
“He violates human rights,” said writer Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. “He preaches hatred and therefore he should be in jail actually, in The Hague, for incitement of genocide. That is a crime against humanity.”
Ahmadinejad, who has previously cast doubt on the Nazi Holocaust, branded Israel a “cruel and repressive racist regime.” Anticipating such remarks, several countries had boycotted the gathering. Of those in attendance, dozens of delegates left the auditorium, led by the French Ambassador. Most returned when Ahmadinejad had finished his speech.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said:
“We left. That does not mean we are leaving the conference. That means we will not tolerate a racist speech.”
Britain’s representative also walked out in protest.
“It has been a disappointing day, to say the least,” said Peter Gooderham, the British Ambassador to the UN in Geneva. “It is only the first day of the conference. The conference continues until Friday. We intend, for the time being, to remain part of it but we will be keeping the proceedings under very close scrutiny.”
A senior official of the NGO, Human Rights Watch, said: “The best response to Ahmadinejad’s inflammatory rhetoric is to stay in Geneva and rebut it.”