A speech by the Iranian president at a controversial UN conference on fighting racism has caused protest and a walkout by some delegates.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticised what he called “the establishment of a racist government in the Middle East after 1945”. Numerous countries, including the US, had already boycotted the meeting in Geneva, amid worries it would be used as a platform to criticise Israel. They also said they were concerned that constructive debate would be overshadowed by disputes, after that happened at a similar conference in Durban in 2001. The Pope’s decision to send a Vatican delegation has been condemned by some Jewish groups, but the church says it is there to seek out positive dialogue. Protesters also gathered outside the venue. Some of them were Iranian opposition groups, who called for more freedom and human rights.