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[photo by youngobv]

Iranian president, Ahmadinejad, spoke at Columbia University today at the protest of many. He also wished to visit Ground Zero, but his request was denied. He commented on this as follows:

QUESTION: One is, what did you hope to accomplish by speaking at Columbia today? And the second is, what would you have said if you were permitted to visit the site of the September 11th tragedy?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Well, here, I'm your guest. I've been invited by Columbia, an official invitation given for me to come here. But I do want to say something here.

In Iran, when you invite a guest, you respect them. This is our tradition, required by our culture. And I know that American people have that culture, as well. Last year, I wanted to go to the site of the September 11th tragedy to show respect to the victims of the tragedy, to show my sympathy with their families.

But our plans got overextended. We were involved in negotiations and meetings until midnight. And they said it would be very difficult to go visit the site at that late hour of the night. So, I told my friends then that they need to plan this for the following year so that I can go and visit the site and to show my respects.

Regretfully, some groups had very strong reactions, very bad reactions. It's bad for someone to prevent someone to show sympathy to the families of the victims of the September 11 event -- tragic event. This is a respect from my side. Somebody told me this is an insult. I said, "What are you saying? This is my way of showing my respect. Why would you think that?"

Thinking like that, how do you expect to manage the world and world affairs?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): Don't you think that a lot of problems in the world come from the way you look at issues because of this kind of way of thinking, because of this sort of pessimistic approach toward a lot of people, because of a certain level of selfishness, self-absorption that needs to be put aside so that we can show respect to everyone, to allow an environment for friendship to grow, to allow all nations to talk with one another and move toward peace?

What was the second question?

I wanted to speak with the press. The September 11th tragic event was a huge event. It led to a lot of many other events afterwards. After 9/11 Afghanistan was occupied, and then Iraq was occupied. And for six years in our region there is insecurity, terror and fear.

If the root causes of 9/11 are examined properly -- why it was happened, what caused it, what were the conditions that led to it, who truly was involved, who was really involved -- and put it all together to understand how to prevent the crisis in Iraq, fix the problem in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

Why do you think he was not allowed to visit Ground Zero? Are we causing further rifts by denying his requests? Do the concerns he raised have any merit?

His comments seem to be well thought out and not far from the truth. But it is hard to take any man with seriousness when he says the following:

QUESTION: Mr. President, another student asks -- Iranian women are now denied basic human rights and your government has imposed draconian punishments, including execution on Iranian citizens who are homosexuals. Why are you doing those things?

AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country.


We don't have that in our country.


AHMADINEJAD (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you that we have it.


Even funnier to me was comments from folks like Kerry, calling the Iranian president a bigot, and all sorts of other stuff, for him simply asking questions, and asking to do further research.

They've been denied access to sites in Europe as well.. Turned away in the same way.. "No, you may not research this topic. It happened just the way we said it did. Goodbye."


The world is flat. Everyone knows this. Research attempted to the contrary will be met with a swift and firm response.

Right. We also see this in our own country in the manner the Bush administration has manipulated the media. Any reporting contrary to the government's propaganda will result in devastating action against the source. We are being duped and more people need to be cognizant of it and fight back.

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