Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Meets Activists, Journalists

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Meets Activists, Journalists in New York

Over 100 people address Islamic Republic leader on conditions inside the U.S.

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

NEW YORK—Over 100 activists and journalists from various organizations, religious groups and media outlets attended a gathering with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the Warwick Hotel in New York City on September 21. The leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran was in the city to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly.

Some of the individuals and organizations in attendance included former U.S. Congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate for 2008 Cynthia McKinney of Georgia, poet and activist Amiri Baraka, MOVE Minister of Information Ramona Africa, International Action Center Co-Director Sara Flounders, Ardeshir and Eleanor Ommani, co-founders of the American-Iranian Friendship Committee, Former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, Million Worker March Movement organizer Brenda Stokely, Shafeah M’balia of the Black Workers for Justice, Phil Wilayto of the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice and Equality, Larry Holmes of the Bailout the People Movement, Don DeBar of Wbaix.org, Ryme Katkhouda of the People’s Media Center among others.

During the course of the evening guests enjoyed an Iranian-style dinner and were later ushered into a conference room where representatives from various organizations spoke on the plight of people inside the United States during the current period. Issues involving the displacement of African-Americans in the aftermath of the Hurricane Katrina, the burgeoning prison-industrial-complex, the conditions facing political prisoners, the crisis in U.S.-Iranian relations and the overall economic crisis dominated the discussion.

After an hour-and-a-half of speeches from 22 individuals, President Ahmadinejad then addressed the guests for approximately forty-five minutes. His remarks touched on the international struggle for peace and justice saying that “trying to build peace is the most important and comprehensive struggle that mankind can have.”

The president also stated that “Those who are opposed to justice are a few, a minority. He reiterated his main point during an earlier address before the General Assembly saying that “It seems to me that one of the main factors in discrimination, and war, and injustice, is the capitalist system. The foundation of the capitalist system is based on superiority, hegemony, and the violation of the rights of others. You can see they start wars to fill up their pockets.”

Ahmadinejad’s United Nations address earlier in the day attracted international attention as a result of his strong criticism of world capitalism. Although he spoke to the oppressive character of capitalism, he placed strong emphasis on religious principles in his general world outlook.

The Iranian president stated that “It is my firm belief that in the new millennium, we need to revert to the divine mindset based on the justice-seeking nature of mankind, and on the monotheistic world view. The discriminatory order of capitalism and the hegemonic approaches are facing defeat.” (Associated Press, September 22)

Although the corporate media uses every opportunity to criticize the Iranian government in regard to its human rights record, during the same week that President Ahmadinejad visited New York, the state of Virginia carried out an execution of a mentally disabled woman Teresa Lewis. This execution through lethal injection proceeded despite outcries from human rights organizations both inside the United States and abroad.

Iran Enhances Relations With the African Continent

One week prior to the convening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the Islamic Republic hosted a forum on African-Iranian relations. Leaders from various African states gathered in Tehran on September 14 where serious discussions were held on ways to enhance economic cooperation.

President Ahmadinejad in an address to the Iran-Africa Forum said that “We are ready to welcome our brothers and sisters for an African Union summit in Tehran. We have the honor to declare that we are ready to share all our experiences and power with Africa to build the future.” (Fars News Agency, September 14)

During the two-day conference in Iran there were four working committees established that examined ways to build relations in the areas of health and medication, industries and mines, politics and trade and economics.

Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, who is the current chair of the African Union, said at the gathering that “The relations between Iran and Africa will grow remarkably in the next five years and many Iranians are due to establish a large number of industries in Africa.” (Fars News Agency, September 14)

In regard to U.S.-Iran relations there has been virtually no improvement since the ascendancy of the Obama administration. Even though President Obama had hinted at a willingness to re-open dialogue with Iran, U.S. State Department officials have continued with threats and accusations in regard to the middle-eastern nation’s nuclear technology program as well as its ongoing support for the Palestine struggle for national liberation.

The Iranian masses rose up in 1979 and overthrew the U.S.-backed regime headed by the Shah. The Shah had been installed after the Central Intelligence Agency had engineered a coup against the Iranian nationalist leader Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 when he had announced plans to nationalize the country’s oil industry.

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