Monday, December 11, 2006

Ahmadinejad booed during speech at university

Students shout "death to dictator", burn Ahmadinejad's pictures

December 11, 2006 Reuters MSNBC:

TEHRAN -- Dozens of Iranian students burned pictures of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and threw firecrackers in an effort to disrupt his speech at a university on Monday, a presidential office spokesman said. It was the first time the president, elected in a landslide in June 2005, had faced such open hostility at a public event. But the spokesman said Ahmadinejad was not deterred and completed his address at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University.

“While he was speaking today they tried to interrupt but they couldn’t and they even burned his pictures while he was speaking and they threw firecrackers but Ahmadinejad continued his speech,” the spokesman said. He said 50 to 60 students were involved and confirmed local news agency reports they had chanted “Death to the dictator” and that scuffles had broken out between pro- and anti-Ahmadinejad students at the event.

Strong reactions from both sides The ISNA students’ news agency said Ahmadinejad had responded to the burning of his pictures by saying: “Everyone should know that Ahmadinejad is prepared to be burned in the path of true freedom, independence and justice.” The semi-official Fars news agency said supporters of the president had prevented the protesters from approaching the podium where the president was speaking and chanted: “Ahmadi, Ahmadi, we support you.” Ahmadinejad told the students: “The minority group which says there is no freedom of speech are not allowing the majority to hear my remarks,” Fars said.