Wednesday, October 26, 2005

World shows outrage at Iranian President's comments

Kash Kheirkhah

As expected, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's blatant hate-mongering toward Israel and his Hitleresque comments that Israel should be wiped off the map have triggered worldwide outrage.

His comments were the first time in years that such a high-ranking Iranian official had called for Israel's eradication, even though such slogans are still regularly used at regime rallies. Ahmadinejad's comments came as five Israelis were killed and dozens more wounded when a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a busy marketplace, the first deadly attack since July.

In Israel, An FO spokesman said this showed "the horrible reality of the violence he [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] is praising".

Israel also urged that Iran be expelled from the United Nations describing it as a "clear and present danger", after the Islamic republic's hardline president called for Israel to be wiped off the map. "This call contravenes the United Nations charter and is tantamount to a crime against humanity," said Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres. "We must submit a clear cut request to the UN secretary general (Kofi Annan) and the Security Council to obtain Iran's expulsion from the United Nations," he wrote in an open letter to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "It is inconceivable for a man calling for genocide to be at the head of a member country of the United Nations," said Mr Peres

In Washington, the White House said the words of the hardline Iranian president also underlined US concerns about Tehran's nuclear ambitions. "It just reconfirms what we have been saying about the regime in Iran. It underscores the concerns we have about Iran's nuclear operations," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters.

France will summon Iran's ambassador to Paris to question him over Ahmadinejad's call," Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said. "I learned of the comments ... according to which the president of Iran says he wants Israel to disappear and said the conflict in the Middle East would perpetuate an age-old fight between Jews and Muslims," Mr Douste-Blazy said in a statement.

In Berlin, the German government said the comments were "completely unacceptable". "If these comments were in fact made, they are completely unacceptable and should be condemned in the strongest terms," said foreign ministry spokesman Walter Lindner. Together with Britain and France, Germany is a member of the so-called EU3 group that is negotiating with Tehran over its controversial nuclear program. Here are some of of the other reactions:

Canada strongly condemned Iran's president on Wednesday for urging that Israel be "wiped off the map", saying the comments were particularly worrying because of Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

"This is the 21st century. We cannot tolerate comments of such hatred, such anti-Semitism, such intolerance," Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew told reporters."And these comments are all the more troubling (given) that we know of Iran's nuclear ambitions. So I think it is very important that all countries do stand up together to make sure that we do not accept that Iran continues a nuclear program."

The UK Foreign Office has summoned a senior Iranian diplomat to protest against his president's comments about destroying Israel.

The Foreign Office has called in Iran's London chargé d'affaires on Thursday. It said the comments were "deeply disturbing and sickening".

Update: Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos Wednesday strongly condemned Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call to eradicate Israel and summoned Iran'sambassador in Madrid for an explanation.

Moratinos summoned Iran's ambassador and issued a statement saying he "condemned the remarks in the most emphatic terms."

Also, BBC news reports that The UK, France, Spain and Canada are summoning Iranian diplomats to demand an explanation for the remark. Western governments are bound to see it as further proof that Iran's hardline president is disinclined to curb his country's controversial nuclear programme.

Sources: Reuters, BBC, SBC Australia