Iranian Bloggers Criticize President's New York Visit
By Ron Synovitz
and Arash Alborzi
September 26, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The Iranian
"blogosphere" is full of criticism of Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad's
activities and remarks during his visit to New York City this
From both inside
and outside Iran, the criticism has been strong. By comparison, conservative
Islamist bloggers in Iran who usually support Ahmadinejad have been relatively
quiet -- posting few details of his appearance at Columbia University, his
speech to the UN General Assembly, or the refusal of U.S. authorities to allow
him to visit the site of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World
One key event that captured the attention of Iranian
bloggers was the introduction that Columbia University President Lee Bollinger
gave when Ahmadinejad appeared on September 24 at a high-profile academic event
there known as the World Leaders Forum.
Bollinger was applauded by the
audience when he challenged Ahmadinejad for questioning the Holocaust and for
his incendiary remarks about Israel. Bollinger said the Iranian president's
comments signaled that he was either "brazenly provocative or astonishingly
"Mr. President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and
cruel dictator," Bollinger said. "And so I ask you, why have women, members of
the Baha'i faith, homosexuals, and so many of our academic colleagues become
targets of persecution in your country?"
'Insulting The Iranian
Former Iranian Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi maintains a
website called "webneveshteha" (written on the web), a Persian-language blog
that claims to have some 20,000 regular readers.
Abtahi writes that "one
of the most important news developments in the entire world is Ahmadinejad's
trip to New York." He goes on to say that, "Unfortunately, Mr. Ahmadinejad,
instead of trying to find solutions for our main problems and improving Iran's
relations with world leaders, has conducted a propaganda trip. And he was
insulted by the media that oppose him."
Abtahi says that "the president
of Columbia University insulted Mr. Ahmadinejad, and these insults are insults
to the Iranian people," adding that "Our nation expected that President
Ahmadinejad wouldn't put himself in a position to be insulted. In the world,
political perspectives are different." Abtahi says he "wishes that Ahmadinejad's
advisers would have helped him to plan his trip and his answers to questions.
People expect the Iranian president to help solve their political and economic
problems on these trips."
'The Evil Has Landed'
anonymous blogger based in Iran who calls himself "Jomhour" (Republic) informs
Iranian readers that CNN described Ahmadinejad's speech at Columbia University
as a "war of words." But Jomhour says Ahmadinejad's visit to the university goes
far beyond a war of words.
He writes: "Maybe we can consider Columbia
University as a sister of Amirkabir, the Polytechnic University in Tehran.
There, in the last year, [Iranian] students criticized Ahmadinejad and protested
against him. The president of Columbia University mentioned the violations of
human rights in Iran, conditions of religious and ethnic minorities, repression
against women and youth, and media censorship. He told Ahmadinejad that he
expected clear and precise answers to these questions. Ahmadinejad, in response
to a question about homosexuals in Tehran, claimed that homosexuality doesn't
exist in Iran. Outside of the university, many people -- including Americans,
Iranian immigrants, Jews, and human-rights activists -- gathered in protest. And
most of them chanted slogans against Ahmadinejad. Maybe it should be no surprise
that the 'New York Daily News' has chosen 'The Evil Has Landed,' as the title of
their front-page article" about Ahmadinejad's arrival in the United
Another anonymous blogger in Iran who writes in Persian under the
title "Khyaban No. 11" asks readers to imagine U.S. President George W. Bush
traveling to Tehran University to make a speech.
Khyaban No. 11 writes:
"Can we even imagine that George W. Bush could come to Tehran and criticize the
Islamic Republic's policies? Is it possible for George W. Bush to come to Tehran
and say that Palestine should be wiped from the map? Can George W. Bush come to
Tehran and talk about exporting democracy to Tehran? Can we even imagine that
George W. Bush would have enough security in Tehran to prevent Ansar Hizbullah
from attacking him?"
Backing Rejection Of World Trade Center
One expatriate Iranian citizen who is unhappy about
Ahmadinejad's visit to the United States is a blogger who lives in Europe and
identifies himself as "Balouch." He reacted unsympathetically to news that
Ahmadinejad's request to visit the site of the World Trade Center -- the
location of the September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States -- was
refused by authorities in New York.
Balouch invokes Iranian tragedy and
the Khavaran Cemetery where thousands of executed political prisoners were
buried in Iran in 1988 to praise U.S. officials' approach.
that "if I were the police, I would have sent this note to him: 'From the New
York Police Department to Mahmud Ahmadinejad: Mr. President, with all due
respect, our office cannot accept your request for several reasons. But you can
kindly go to Khavaran Cemetery. You don't need any visa to go there. But in our
opinion, forget flowers. Just stop killing U.S. soldiers [in Iraq] with roadside
'This Coat Is Too Big'
Another expatriate Iranian
blogger who is unhappy about Ahmadinejad's activities in New York this week is a
29-year-old Iranian-born citizen who identifies himself as "Mr. Behi." Now
purportedly living in Libya, Mr. Behi describes himself as a man who "tries to
be a person with a free mind" and "a world citizen."
He writes: "There is
a proverb in Persian saying: 'This coat is too big for you.' It's used for
someone who pretends to do what he or she is too immature for. Since Ahmadinejad
became president, we started having feelings of regret because this proverb
started to make sense about him. To me, [Ahmadinejad] is so politically immature
that he rarely thinks about what he puts himself into and what future outcome
his remarks might have. That or he does think about it but his framework of
thinking is so far from reality. He is a simple man for whom the presidential
chair is too big -- so big that after two years, he still could not come to
comprehend his own position and has never learned to abide by the normal
diplomatic behavior that is expected from a president."
Mr. Behi goes on
to say that "last year after coming back from the UN, [Ahmadinejad] claimed that
during his speech, a rim of light surrounded him. Domestically, he claimed so
many unrealistic things as well. I would say that his talk about the Holocaust
and wiping Israel off the map are as insignificant as his other statement. As a
result, I think comparing [Ahmadinejad] to Hitler is very unrealistic and is
truly propaganda to fuel a war. The regrettable fact is, 'Why has he put himself
and his country in such position by talking before thinking?'" Mr. Behi asks,
before answering, "We add this question to the tons of others that are left
unanswered by the Islamic Republic."
Copyright (c) 2007 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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