War of words over racism conference

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War of words over racism conference

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As the Iranian President was welcomed home from the controversial UN conference on racism in Geneva, the UN Secretary General came under fire from the government in Tehran.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he deplored Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comment to the forum that Israel was a “cruel and racist state”. But the Iranian foreign minister today said that criticism of his president was “unreasonable and not neutral”. The speech triggered a noisy protest and a walkout by some delegates at the conference. And as the meeting continues, more participants have been giving their reactions. Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel said: “He (Ahmadinejad) wants to be almost better than Hitler. Hitler did not succeed in annihilating our people.” There was a flood of other condemnations after Ahmadinejad’s speech. Human Rights Watch says Iran has a lot of explaining to do regarding its record on human rights, so a more humble approach would have been better.