First Published 2009-04-20
‘Efforts must be made to put an end to the abuse by Zionists’
Ahmadinejad slams ‘racist’ Israeli government
Several diplomats attending UN conference walk out as Iran President speaks about Israel.
GENEVA – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticised the formation of a “racist government” in the Middle East, in a clear reference to Israel, during a United Nations conference on racism Monday.
“They sent migrants from Europe, the United States … in order to establish a racist government in the occupied Palestine,” he said.
The Iranian leader added: “Efforts must be made to put an end to the abuse by Zionists and (their) supporters.”
“Governments must be encouraged and supported in … eradicating this barbaric racism and to move towards reform.”
Ahmadinejad was about 10 minutes into his speech when several diplomats, including the French ambassador exited.
France condemned what it called Ahmadinejad’s “hate speech” after its ambassador walked out of the UN racism conference.
“The president, who had already rejected the unacceptable statements made by the Iranian president in other circumstances, condemns utterly this hate speech,” said President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office.
“He calls for the European Union to take an extremely firm stance,” it added, in a statement issued in Paris.
“I hope this protest gesture inspires the international community to take notice,” added Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in a second statement.
“The defence of human rights and the fight against all types of racism are too important for the United Nations not to unite against all forms of hate speech, against all perversion of this message,” he said.
“Faced with attitudes like that which the Iranian president has just adopted, no compromise is possible.”
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon deplored Ahmadinejad’s speech.
“I deplore the use of this platform by the Iranian President to accuse, divide and even incite. This is the opposite of what this conference seeks to achieve,” said Ban in a statement.
Ban met Ahmadinejad before the Iranian president was due to address the meeting.
“I reminded the President that the UN General Assembly had adopted the resolutions to revoke the equation of Zionism with racism,” he said.
“It is deeply regrettable that my plea to look to the future of unity was not heeded by the Iranian President,” Ban added.
When addressing a UN conference against racism, Ahmadinejad criticised the creation of a “totally racist government in occupied Palestine” in 1948, calling it “the most cruel and racist regime”.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown “unreservedly condemned” the “offensive and inflammatory” comments made by Ahmadinejad, his spokesman said.
At least three demonstrators from the French Union of Jewish Students, dressed as clowns and shouting “racist, racist,” were expelled from the conference as Ahmadinejad began to speak.
The Iranian’s president’s speech was marked by more catcalls from the non-governmental organisation, as well as applause, but the response was more muted among about 100 countries attending.
Ahmadinejad on said countries that are boycotting the UN racism conference are doing so out of “arrogance and selfishness.”
“In our opinion, this is arrogance and selfishness and the root cause of the problems of the world,” Ahmadinejad told a press conference.
Before his arrival in Geneva, Ahmadinejad said “the Zionist ideology and regime are the flag-bearers of racism.”
Israel has often come under international criticism for ‘racism’ and mistreatment of its Arab minority, who are the original inhabitants of the land and today make up one fifth of its total population.
The Arab population is comprised of the descendants of the Palestinians who remained in their land despite being subjected to an Israeli campaign of ‘ethnic cleansing’ during the creation of Israel.
The majority of those who fled and their descendants, an estimated six million Palestinians, wish to return to their rightful homes but are prevented from doing so by Israel, in violation of international human rights.