Ahmadinejad's Christmas broadcast sparks outrage 
4:00AM Friday Dec 26, 2008

Iran's President offered season's greetings to Christians in a 
British TV address and suggested that if Jesus were alive, he would 
oppose "bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers" - an apparent 
reference to the United States and its allies.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Christmas Day broadcast was delivered on 
Britain's Channel 4 television, occupying a slot that provides an 
often controversial counterpoint to the Queen's annual message. A 
leading British Jewish group said it was appalled.

According to a transcript released in advance, Ahmadinejad said most 
of the world's problems stemmed from leaders who had turned against 
religion. The Muslim President does not refer to rival nations or 
leaders by name or mention Israel, despite his past calls to wipe it 

"If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly he would hoist the banner 
of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, 
terrorists and bullies the world over," Ahmadinejad said, according 
to the English translation of the Farsi-language speech. The 
broadcast was to screen with subtitles.

The United States, Britain and others suspect Iran of developing 
nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists its uranium enrichment 
programme is intended solely for a civilian energy programme.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews - which represents the Jewish 
community in the United Kingdom - said the broadcast was 
offensive. "To invite him to deliver a Christmas message, even a so-
called alternative one, fills me with disgust," said the group's 
president, Henry Grunwald.

The Israeli Ambassador to London condemned the speech as a "bogus 
message of good will". "That [Channel 4] should give an unchallenged 
platform to the President of a regime which denies the Holocaust, 
advocates the destruction of the sovereign state of Israel, funds and 
encourages terrorism, executes children and hangs gay people is a 
disgrace," Ron Prosor said. "Outrage doesn't begin to explain it."

British human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell echoed the comments, 
saying the broadcaster was "aiding and abetting a tyrant".

"This is the equivalent of giving [Zimbabwean ruler] Robert Mugabe a 
prime-time television slot to promote his propaganda," he said.

Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4's head of news and current affairs, said 
Ahmadinejad was picked because Iran's relations with the West were 
likely to remain a big global issue in 2009.

"As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, 
President Ahmadinejad's views are enormously influential. As we 
approach a critical time in international relations, we are offering 
our viewers an insight into an alternative world view."

* Some of the people chosen by Britain's Channel 4 to deliver its 
Christmas message, an alternative to the speech given by the Queen:

1994 - United States civil rights campaigner the Rev Jesse Jackson.

1995 - French screen icon and animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot.

1999 - British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, in character as spoof 
rapper Ali G.

2001 - Genelle Guzman, who survived the September 11 terror attacks 
on the World Trade Centre in New York.

2002 - Sharon Osbourne, the wife of rock and reality television star 
Ozzy Osbourne.

2004 - Animated cartoon character Marge Simpson.

2006 - A British Muslim woman with her face covered by a niqab, a 
traditional veil.

2007 - Major Andrew Stockton, a British soldier who lost his arm 
fighting in Afghanistan.

2008 - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.

- AP


Kirim email ke