Iranian leader defends denunciation of Israel
From combined dispatches
October 29, 2005
TEHRAN -- President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, cheered by tens of thousands of supporters, yesterday stood by his call for Israel to be "wiped off the map," while Iran's foreign ministry sought to defuse a diplomatic storm.
Marching alongside protesters chanting "death to America" and "death to Israel," the 47-year-old former mayor of Tehran and one-time Republican Guard said: "They become upset when they hear any voice of truth-seeking. They think they are the absolute rulers of the world."
Mr. Ahmadinejad made his declaration during the al-Quds -- or Jerusalem -- Day protest, which was among the largest ones since first held in 1979 after Shi'ite Muslim clerics took power in Iran.
Some protesters burned or trampled Israeli and U.S. flags.
It is not uncommon for an Iranian president to join marches in the capital. Mr. Ahmadinejad was accompanied by five bodyguards, but otherwise security was not out of the ordinary for such an event.
In New York, the U.N. Security Council yesterday added its voice to a chorus of condemnation for Mr. Ahmadinejad's extremist remarks, a move immediately welcomed by the Israeli ambassador, Dan Gillerman.
"The Security Council condemns the remarks about Israel attributed to Mr. Ahmadinejad, president of the Islamic Republic of Iran," said a statement read by the president of the council for the month, Romanian Ambassador Mihnea Motoc.
Despite Mr. Ahmadinejad's continued attacks on the West, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani yesterday tried to tone down the rhetoric, suggesting that Israelis and Palestinians hold a referendum to decide the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations.
"If Muslims and Palestinians agree [to a referendum], it will be a retreat but let's still hold a referendum," Mr. Rafsanjani said in his Friday prayers sermon.
The Iranian Embassy in Moscow said Mr. Ahmadinejad "did not have any intention to speak in sharp terms and engage in a conflict."
But that was not the message carried by the at least 200,000 Iranians who massed in Tehran to virulent condemn Israel, the United States and the West in general, accusing them of oppressing Palestinians and Iran.
Some demonstrators chanted "Israel is approaching its death" and wore white shrouds in a symbolic gesture expressing readiness to die for their cause.
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Saturday, October 29, 2005
Ahmadinejad continues putting his foot in it...
You know, Iran's 'President' 'Ahmadinejad.'