Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

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Posted by sonny 03/23/2009 @ 07:18

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Ahmadinejad Is Declared Victor in Iran - New York Times
By ROBERT F. WORTH TEHRAN — The Iranian government declared an outright election victory for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday morning, and riot police officers clamped down on a growing demonstration by supporters of the opposition candidate,...
Shalom, Ayalon warn of Iranian threat - Jerusalem Post
COM STAFF AND AP Vice Premier Silvan Shalom and Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon on Saturday stressed the danger posed by the Iranian nuclear threat, following the initial reports that the Islamic republic had reelected Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to serve...
Officials: Ahmadinejad has strong lead - United Press International
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (C) casts his vote at a polling station in the presidential election in Tehran, Iran on June 12, 2009. The election will decide whether to keep hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in power or replace him with...
xxxxiran elections: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hossein Mousavi both ... -
By Leonard Doyle Iran's interior ministry said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had moved into a strong lead with nearly 70 per cent of the votes tallied so far. But his pro-reform rival, Hossein Mousavi, the former prime minister, said that he had won...
Ahmadinejad leads after 10 million votes counted: official - Reuters
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was ahead with almost 69 percent of the votes in Friday's presidential election, after 35 percent of the ballot boxes had been counted, election commission figures showed....
Iran Election Results Declare Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Winner - HULIQ
Iran's government has declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the decisive winner as as result of the June 12 election. But Ahmadinejad's chief challenger, reformist Mir Hossein Musavi, has strongly protested what he described as "obvious violations" in...
World reacts cautiously to Iranian's re-election - The Associated Press
VIENNA (AP) — A world wary of Iran's nuclear program reacted cautiously Saturday to hardline leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's re-election. Some expressed hope that the Islamic republic's president will soften his trademark defiance and warm to recent US...
Gates has wait-and-see stance on Iranian election - The Associated Press
At a news conference during a NATO meeting in Belgium, Gates was asked his view of the balloting Friday in which voters were choosing between hardline incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hossein Mousavi, a reformist who favors greater freedoms...
Ahmadinejad Wins Stanley Cup - Huffington Post
In what many are describing as an upset victory of unprecedented proportions, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins last night to win the 2009 Stanley Cup, Iran's Interior Ministry announced today....
Rafsanjani: Election boosts Iran's international clout - PRESS TV
After a range of accusations by the incumbent Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Rafsanjani wrote to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Tuesday, warning about the effects of such accusations on the election and...

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ( mæhmuːd-e æhmædiː-neʒɒːd (help·info); born 28 October 1956) is the sixth and current President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He became president on August 6, 2005, after winning the 2005 presidential election. Ahmadinejad became the first president of the Islamic Republic in twenty-four years who was not a religious cleric. Despite his title, he is not the most powerful official in Iran; that role belongs to the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, according to Article 113 of Constitution of Iran. Prior to becoming president, Ahmadinejad was mayor of Tehran and governor general of Iran's Ardabil Province.

Ahmadinejad has been a critic of the US and Israel, and backs strengthening Iran's relations with Russia, Venezuela, Syria, and the Persian Gulf states.

On Iran's nuclear program, Ahmadinejad has said it is for peaceful purposes. For that stated reason and others, Iran has refused to end nuclear enrichment despite United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for it to do so. Ahmadinejad argues that the sanctions imposed by the West over Iran's nuclear enrichment are illegal and that Iran will continue to abide by International Atomic Energy Agency monitoring of its nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad has also called for the dissolution of the state of Israel, and calls for free elections in the region. He believes that the Palestinians need a stronger voice in the region's future.

During his presidency, Ahmadinejad launched a gas rationing plan to reduce the country's fuel consumption. He also instituted cuts in the interest rates that private and public banking facilities could charge.

Ahmadinejad, born Mahmoud Saborjhian was the son of a blacksmith, born near Garmsar in the village of Aradan on 28 October 1956. The name, which derives from thread painter, a once common and humble occupation, was changed into Ahmadinejad, meaning the race of Mohammed or the virtuous race. According to his relatives, it was for "a mixture of religious and economic reasons." During the presidential campaign in 2009, political opponents have speculated that the name was changed in order to cover Jewish roots. In the 1950s, Ahmadinejad and his family moved from Aradan to Tehran in search of more economic prosperity; It was during this time period that the Saborjhian family changed its name to Ahmadinejad.

In 1976, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took Iran's national university entrance exams (concours). He has claimed that he ranked 132nd out of 400,000 participants that year, and soon enrolled in the Iran University of Science and Technology (IUST) as an undergraduate student of civil engineering. It is not clear what he did during the next ten years.

After the Islamic Revolution, he became a member of the Office for Strengthening Unity, an organization developed to prevent students from sympathizing or allying with the budding Mojahedin-e Khalq. According to a July 1, 2005 article of the New York Times, 6 former hostages of the 1979 US Embassy Crisis in Iran remember Ahmadinejad playing a major role in their captivity. During this crisis 52 American hostages were held for 444 days. William J. Daugherty, a former intelligence officer, colonel Charles Scott, commander Donald Sharer, lieutenant colonel David Roeder, and marine guard Kevin Hermening are five of the hostages who distinctly remember Mahmoud Ahmadinejad being involved directly and in a supervisory role in interrogations. For example, Mr. Roeder recalls, “He was one of the interrogators in the room . . . when they threatened me with my son’s kidnapping.” Mr Roeder also recalled “Mr. Ahmadinejad working in a supervisory role in one third or more of the 44 interrogations he underwent.” A follow up article on July 29, 2005 from the New York Times indicated an investigation into the matter by the US State Department was inconclusive. However at the time of the July 29th article none of the aforementioned six hostages had been interviewed. The White House did concede “Mr. Ahmadinejad was leader of the student movement that organized the attack on the embassy and the taking of American hostages." Admadinejad and Iranian officials deny he had any involvement with the hostage taking.

It has been widely reported that after Saddam Hussein invaded Iran, Ahmadinejad joined the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution and served in their intelligence and security apparatus, but his advisor Mojtaba Samareh Hashemi says "He has never been a member or an official member of the Revolutionary Guards", having been a Basiji-like volunteer instead. He was accepted to a Master of Science program at the same school in 1986, and eventually received his doctorate in 1997 in civil engineering and traffic transportation planning. During his doctoral studies at Tehran, he was the governor general of Ardabil Province (1993-1997). Ahmadinejad was a lecturer and member of the faculty at the university since 1989.

Ahmadinejad is married and has two sons and a daughter. One of his sons formerly studied at the Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic).

Ahmadinejad began his political career as governor to both Maku and Khoy in West Azarbaijan Province during the 1980s. He eventually became an advisor to the governor general of Kurdistan Province for two years and was appointed as the governor general of Ardabil Province in 1993. In 1997, Mohammad Khatami removed Ahmadinejad from his position in Ardabil, and Ahmadinejad returned to teaching. In 2003, however, Ahmadinejad returned to the political scene after the City Council of Tehran appointed him to the position of mayor, after a 12 percent turnout led to the election of Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran's conservative candidates in Tehran.

During his mayorship, he reversed many of the changes put into effect by previous moderate and reformist mayors, putting religious emphasis on the activities of the cultural centers founded by previous mayors, going on the record with the separation of elevators for men and women in the municipality offices, and suggesting that the bodies of those killed in the Iran–Iraq War be buried in major city squares of Tehran. Such actions were coupled with an emphasis on charity, such as distributing free soup to the poor.

After two years as mayor, Ahmadinejad was shortlisted in a list of 65 finalists for World Mayor in 2005 and was among 3 strong candidates for the top-10 list but became non-eligible because of his resignation. Out of the 550 nominated mayors, nine were from Asia.

He was not widely known when he entered the presidential election campaign, although he had already made his mark for rolling back earlier reforms. After his election to the presidency, Ahmadinejad resigned from his post as the mayor of Tehran. His resignation was accepted on 28 June 2005.

He is a member of the Central Council of the Islamic Society of Engineers, but his key support is inside the Alliance of Builders of Islamic Iran (Abadgaran).

In his presidential campaign, Ahmadinejad took a populist approach, with emphasis on his own modest life, and compared himself with Mohammad Ali Rajai, the second president of Iran. Ahmadinejad said he had plans to create an "exemplary government for the people of the world" in Iran. He is a self-described "principlist"; that is, acting politically based on Islamic and revolutionary principles. One of his goals has been "putting the petroleum income on people's tables", referring to Iran's oil profits being distributed among the poor.

Ahmadinejad was the only presidential candidate who spoke out against future relations with the United States. In an interview with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting a few days before the elections, Ahmadinejad accused the United Nations of being "one-sided, stacked against the world of Islam." He has openly opposed the veto power given to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. In the same interview, he stated, "It is not just for a few states to sit and veto global approvals. Should such a privilege continue to exist, the Muslim world with a population of nearly 1.5 billion should be extended the same privilege." He has defended Iran's nuclear program and has accused "a few arrogant powers" of attempting to limit Iran's industrial and technological development in this and other fields.

As confirmed by Ahmadinejad, his ideological and spiritual mentor is Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, a senior cleric from Qom. Mesbah is the founder of Haghani School of thought in Iran. He and his team strongly supported Ahmadinejad's campaign during presidential election in 2005.

Ahmadinejad became the sixth president of Iran on 6 August 2005, after winning 62 percent of the vote in the run-off poll, nearly twice that of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. He received the presidential authorization from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on 3 August 2005. During the authorization ceremony he kissed Khamenei's hand in demonstration of his loyalty to him. Ahmadinejad's current term will end in August 2009, but he will be eligible to run for one more term in office in the 2009 presidential elections.

Ahmadinejad was required to introduce his suggested ministers to Majlis for a vote of approval in 15 days, after which Majlis would have one week to decide about the ministers. Masoud Zaribafan, Ahmadinejad's campaign manager, mentioned that Ahmadinejad would probably introduce his cabinet on the same day of his vow, but that did not happen. The list was finally sent to the Majlis on 14 August 2005.

The parliament had held a private meeting on 5 August, when Ahmadinejad presented a shortlist of three or four candidates for each ministry, to know the opinion of Majlis about his candidates. The final list was officially sent to the Majlis on 14 August. After a few days of heavy discussions in Majlis, which started on 21 August 2005, Ahmadinejad's cabinet was voted for on 24 August.

The new board of ministers held its first meeting on 25 August in Mashhad, promising to keep frequent meetings to cities other than Tehran.

Ahmadinejad is thought to be a leading contender for Iran's June 12, 2009 presidential election. On August 23, 2008, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei announced that he "sees Ahmadinejad as president in the next five years," a comment interpreted as indicating support for Ahmadinejad's reelection.

In Ahmadinejad's first three years as president, Iran's real GDP growth fell short of the 7.5 percent growth that was expected by the central bank, despite a highly educated and young labor force and a growing middle class. Inflation and unemployment have both increased and the government has continued a cycle of unsustainable spending and poor economic management. Ahmadinejad has increased spending by 25 percent and has supported subsidies for food and gasoline. He also initially refused a gradual increase of petrol prices, saying that after making necessary preparations, such as a development of public transportation system, the government will free up petrol prices after five years. Interest rates were cut by presidential decree to below the inflation rate. The Management and Planning Organisation, a state body charged with mapping out long-term economic and budget strategy, was broken up and its experienced managers were fired.

In June 2006, 50 Iranian economists wrote a letter to Ahmadinejad that criticized his price interventions to stabilize prices of goods, cement, government services, and his decree issued by the High Labor Council and the Ministry of Labor that proposed an increase of workers' salaries by 40 percent. Ahmadinejad publicly responded harshly to the letter and denounced the accusations. Ahmadinejad has called for "middle-of-the-road" compromises with respect to Western-oriented capitalism and the socialist character of the Iranian Revolution. Current political conflicts with the United States have caused the central bank to fear increased capital flight due to global isolation. These factors have prevented an improvement of infrastructure and capital influx, despite high economic potential. Among those that did not vote for him in the first election, only 3.5 percent said they would consider voting for him in the next election. Mohammad Khoshchehreh, a member of Iranian parliament that campaigned for Ahmadinejad, said that his government "has been strong on populist slogans, but weak on achievement." President Ahmadinejad has changed almost all of his economic ministers, including oil, industry and economy, since coming to power in 2005. In an interview with Fars News Agency on April 2008, Davoud Danesh Jaafari who acted as minister of economy in President Ahmadinejad’s cabinet, harshly criticized Ahmadinejad’s economic policy: “During my time, there was no positive attitude towards previous experiences or experienced people and there was no plan for the future. Peripheral issues which were not of dire importance to the nation were given priority. Most of the scientific economic concepts like the effect of liquidity on inflation were put in question." In response to these criticisms, Ahmadinejad accused his minister of not being "a man of justice" and declared that the solution to Iran’s economic problem is "the culture of martyrdom". In May 2008, the Petroleum minister of Iran admitted that the government illegally invested 2 billion dollars to import petrol in 2007. At Iranian parliament, he also mentioned that he simply followed the president's order.

In October 2006, Ahmadinejad opposed encouraging families to limit themselves to just two children, stating that Iran could cope with 50 million more people than the current 70 million. In remarks that have drawn criticism, he told MPs he wanted to scrap existing birth control policies which discouraged Iranian couples from having more than two children. Critics said his call was ill-judged at a time when Iran was struggling with surging inflation and rising unemployment, estimated at around 11 percent. Ahmadinejad’s call for an increased birth rate is reminiscent of a call Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini made in 1979. The policy was effective in increasing population growth, but was eventually reversed in response to the resultant economic strain.

In 2008, the government sent the "Family Protection Bill" to the Iranian parliament. Women's rights activists criticized the bill for removing protections from women, such as the requirement that a husband obtain his wife's consent before bringing another wife into the family.

The first legislation to emerge from his newly formed government was a 12 trillion Rial (US$1.3 billion) fund called "Reza's Compassion Fund" which was named after Shi'a Imam Ali al-Rida. By tapping into Iran's oil revenues, Ahmadinejad's government says that this fund will be used to help young people to get jobs and to afford marriage, as well to assist in purchasing their own homes. The fund also sought charitable donations, and includes a boards of trustees in each of Iran's 30 provinces. The legislation was in response to the costly housing in urban centres which is pushing up the national average marital age (currently around 25 years for women and 28 years for men). In 2006 the Iranian parliament rejected the fund. However, Ahmadinejad ordered the administrative council to execute the plan.

Several Western human rights organizations and governments have criticized Ahmadinejad's human rights record.

According to a report by the group Human Rights Watch, "Since President Ahmadinejad came to power, treatment of detainees has worsened in Evin Prison as well as in detention centers operated clandestinely by the Judiciary, the Ministry of Information, and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps." Again according to Human Rights Watch, "Respect for basic human rights in Iran, especially freedom of expression and assembly, deteriorated in 2006. The government routinely tortures and mistreats detained dissidents, including through prolonged solitary confinement." Human Rights Watch described the source of human rights violations in contemporary Iran as coming from the Judiciary, accountable to Ali Khamenei, and from members directly appointed by Ahmadinejad.

Responses to dissent have varied. Human Rights Watch writes that "the Ahmadinejad government, in a pronounced shift from the policy under former president Mohammed Khatami, has shown no tolerance for peaceful protests and gatherings." In December 2006, Ahmadinejad advised officials not to disturb students who engaged in a protest during a speech of his at the Amirkabir University of Technology in Tehran, although speakers at other protests have included among their complaints that there had been a crackdown on dissent at universities since Ahmadinejad was elected.

In April 2007, the Tehran police, which is under Khamenei's supervision, began a crackdown on women with "improper hijab." This led to criticism from associates of Ahmadinejad.

In 2006, the Ahmadinejad government reportedly forced numerous Iranian scientists and university professors to resign or to retire. It has been referred to as "second cultural revolution". The policy has been said to replace old professors with younger ones. Some university professors received letters indicating their early retirement unexpectedly. In November 2006, 53 university professors had to retire from Iran University of Science and Technology.

On 11 December 2006, some students disrupted a speech by Ahmadinejad at the Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic) in Tehran. According to the Iranian Student News Agency, students set fire to photographs of Ahmadinejad and threw firecrackers. The protesters also chanted "death to the dictator." It was the first major public protest against Ahmadinejad since his election. In a statement carried on the students' Web site, they announced that they had been protesting the growing political pressure under Ahmadinejad, also accusing him of corruption, mismanagement, and discrimination. The statement added that "the students showed that despite vast propaganda, the president has not been able to deceive academia." It was also reported that some students were angry about the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust.

In response to the students' slogans, the president said: "We have been standing up to dictatorship so that no one will dare to establish dictatorship in a millennium even in the name of freedom. Given the scars inflicted on the Iranian nation by agents of the US and British dictatorship, no one will ever dare to initiate the rise of a dictator." It was reported that even though the protesters broke the TV cameras and threw hand-made bombs at Ahmadinejad, the president asked the officials not to question or disturb the protesters. In his blog, Ahmadinejad described his reaction to the incident as "a feeling of joy" because of the freedom that people enjoyed after the revolution.

One thousand students also protested the day before to denounce the increased pressure on the reformist groups at the university. One week prior, more than two thousand students protested at Tehran University on the country's annual student day, with speakers saying that there had been a crackdown on dissent at universities since Ahmadinejad was elected.

Ahmadinejad has been a vocal supporter of Iran's nuclear program, and has insisted that it is for peaceful purposes. He has repeatedly emphasized that building a nuclear bomb is not the policy of his government. He has said that such a policy is "illegal and against our religion." He also added at a January 2006 conference in Tehran that a nation with "culture, logic and civilization" would not need nuclear weapons, and that countries that seek nuclear weapons are those which want to solve all problems by the use of force. In a 2008 interview Ahmadinejad elaborated that countries striving to obtain nuclear weapons are politically backward nations and those who possess them and continually make new generations of such bombs are "even more backward".

Despite Ahmadinejad's vocal support for the program, the office of the Iranian president is not responsible for nuclear policy. It is instead set by the Supreme National Security Council. The council includes two representatives appointed by the Supreme Leader, military officials and members of the executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government. It reports directly to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who issued a fatwa against nuclear weapons in 2005.

Khamenei usually refrains from speaking in public, but has criticized Ahmadinejad's "personalization" of the nuclear issue. However, sources close to the president have said the article comes from Rafsanjani. Ahmadinejad vowed on 23 February 2008, that Iran will not be held back from developing its peaceful nuclear program, and said the "nuclear technology is ... the sort of technology that has been monopolized by a few countries". Ahmadinejad has stated that at least 16 different peaceful uses for nuclear technology has so far been identified.

Ahmadinejad has been criticized for attacking private “plunderers” and “corrupt officials,” while engaging in "cronyism and political favouritism". Many of his close associates have been appointed to positions for which they have no obvious qualifications, and "billion dollar no-bid contracts" have been awarded to the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), an organization that he is strongly associated with.

In 2005, Khamenei responded to Ahmadinejad's alleged remark that Israel should be "wiped off the map" by saying that "the Islamic Republic has never threatened and will never threaten any country." Moreover, Khamenei's main adviser in foreign policy, Ali Akbar Velayati, refused to take part in Ahmadinejad's Holocaust conference. In contrast to Ahmadinejad's remarks, Velayati said that the Holocaust was a genocide and a historical reality.

In June 2007, Ahmadinejad was criticized by some Iranian parliament members over his remark about Christianity and Judaism. According to Aftab News Agency, Ahmadinejad stated: "In the world, there are deviations from the right path: Christianity and Judaism. Dollars have been devoted to the propagation of these deviations. There are also false claims that these will save mankind. But Islam is the only religion that save mankind." Some members of Iranian parliament criticized these remarks as being fuels to religious war.

Conservative MP Rafat Bayat has blamed Ahmadinejad for a decline in observance of the required hijab for women, calling him "not that strict on this issue". Ahmadinejad has been also accused of indecency by people close to Rafsanjani, after he publicly kissed the hand of a woman who used to be his school teacher.

Ahmadinejad's criticism of the West has led to attempts to compel him to go to the Iranian parliament to answer questions. In October 2008, Ahmadinejad's statements on the Holocaust were criticized within Iran by cleric and presidential hopeful Mahdi Karroubi.

Many reformist and independent political parties, including some of those that boycotted the first round of the presidential election, have called for an alliance against Ahmadinejad, calling it "a national alliance against fascism." Critics, including some independent ones, have mentioned that while there are some similarities between the actions and rising of supporters of Ahmadinejad with those of fascism, the movement differs because it is neither nationalistic nor racist and lacks corporatism.

Some dissident groups also accused him of being a ruthless interrogator and torturer in the 1980s.

In 2008, a serious conflict emerged between Iranian President and the head of parliament over three laws approved by Iranian parliament: "the agreement for civil and criminal legal cooperation between Iran and Kyrgyzstan", "the agreement to support mutual investment between Iran and Kuwait", and "the law for registration of industrial designs and trademarks". The conflict was so serious that the Iranian leader stepped in to resolve the conflict. Ahmadinejad wrote a letter to parliament speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel, furiously denouncing him for an "inexplicable act" in bypassing the presidency by giving the order to implement legislation in an official newspaper. President Ahmadinejad accused the head of parliament of violating Iranian constitutional law. He called for legal action against the Parliament speaker. Haddad-Adel responded to Ahmadinejad accusing him of using inappropriate language in his remarks and letters.

In August 2008, Dr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, appointed Ali Kordan as Iran's interior minister. Kordan's appointment has been criticized by Iranian parliamentarians, media and analysts after it came to light that a doctoral degree allegedly awarded to Ali Kordan was fabricated, and that the putative issuer of the degree, Oxford University, had no record of Ali Kordan receiving any degree from the University. It was also revealed that he had been jailed in 1978 for moral charges. Fabrication of legal documents is punishable in Iranian law with one to three years of imprisonment and in the case of government officials, the maximum sentence (three years) is demanded.

In November 2008, President Ahmadinejad announced that he is against impeachment of Ali Kordan by Iranian parliament. He refuse to attend the parliament on the impeachment day. Ali Kordan was expelled from Iranian interior ministry by Iranian parliament on 4th of November 2008. 188 MPs voted against Ali Kordan. An impeachment of Kordan would push Ahmadinejad close to having to submit his entire cabinet for review by parliament, which is led by one of his chief political opponents. Iran's constitution requires that step if more than half the cabinet ministers are replaced, and Ahmadinejad has replaced nine of 21.

On February 2009 after Iran's National Audit Office reported that $1.058 billion of surplus oil revenue in the (2006-2007) budget hasn't been returned by the government to the national treasury ,Ali Larijani-Iran's parliamentary speaker-called for further investigations in order to make sure the missing funds are returned to the treasury as soon as possible. .Ahmadinejad criticized the National Audit Office for what he called its "carelessness", saying the report "incites the people" against the government.also Head of the parliament Energy Commission, Hamidreza Katouzian reprted:The government spent $5 billion to import fuel, about $2 billion more than the sum parliament had authorized.Katouzian quoted Iran's Oil Minister, Gholam-Hossein Nozari, as saying that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had ordered the extra purchase. On February 2009 parliamentary research centre report Iran faces a budget deficit of 44 billion dollars in the financial year starting in March.Ahmadinejad rejected report and said: budget is without deficit.

During Ahmadinejad's presidency, Iran and the US have had the most high-profile contact in almost 30 years. Iran and the US froze diplomatic relations in 1980 and had no direct diplomatic contact until May 2007.

While the U.S has linked its support for a Palestinian state to acceptance of Israel's "right to exist," Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has retorted that Israel be moved to Europe instead. The U.S. has sent clear signals to Iran that its posturing against Israel's right to exist is unacceptable, leading to increased speculation of a U.S. led attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Even though Iran has denied involvement in Iraq, then-President Bush warned of "consequences," sending a clear message to Iran that the U.S may take military action against it. The Bush administration considered Iran to be the world's leading state supporter of terrorism. Iran has been on the U.S. list of state sponsors of international terrorism since 1984, a claim that Iran and Ahmadinejad have denied.

On November 2006, Ahmadinejad wrote an open letter to the American people, representing some of his anxieties and concerns. He stated that there is an urgency to have a dialog because of the activities of the US administration in the Middle East, and that the US is concealing the truth about current realities.

The United States Senate passed a resolution warning Iran about attacks in Iraq. On 26 September 2007, the United States Senate passed a resolution 76-22 and labeled an arm of the Iranian military as a terrorist organization.

In September 2007 Ahmadinejad visited New York to address the General Assembly of the United Nations. Prior to this he gave a speech at the Columbia University, where the university president Lee Bollinger — clearly stung by criticism for hosting Ahmadinejad — used his introduction to excoriate the Iranian leader as everything from a "cruel and petty dictator" to "astonishingly uneducated." Taking questions from Columbia faculty and students who attended his address, Ahmadinejad answered a query about the treatment of gays in Iran by saying: "We don't have homosexuals like in your country. We don't have that in our country. We don't have this phenomenon; I don't know who's told you we have it." An aide later claimed that he was misrepresented and was actually saying that "compared to American society, we don't have many homosexuals".

In a speech given in April 2008, Ahmadinejad described the September 11, 2001 attacks as a "suspect event." He minimized the attacks by saying all that had happened was, "a building collapsed." He claimed that the death toll was never published, that the victims' names were never published, and that the attacks were used subsequently as pretext for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

In October 2008, President Ahmadinejad expressed his happiness of 2008 global economic crisis and what he called "collapse of liberalism". He said the West has been driven to deadend and that Iran was proud "to put an end to liberal economy". Ahmadinejad used a September 2008 speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations to assert the American empire is soon going to end without specifying how. "The American empire in the world is reaching the end of its road, and its next rulers must limit their interference to their own borders," Ahmadinejad said.

On November 6, 2008 (one day after the 2008 US Presidential Election ), President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad congratulated Barack Obama, the newly elected President of the United States, and said that he "Welcomes basic and fair changes in U.S. policies and conducts, I hope you will prefer real public interests and justice to the never-ending demands of a selfish minority and seize the opportunity to serve people so that you will be remembered with high esteem". It is the first congratulatory message to a new elected President of the United States by an Iranian President since the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis.

Ahmadinejad has moved to strengthen relations with Russia, setting up an office expressly dedicated to the purpose in October 2005. He has worked with Vladimir Putin on the nuclear issue, and both Putin and Ahmadinejad have expressed a desire for more mutual cooperation on issues involving the Caspian Sea. More recently, Iran has been increasingly pushed into an alliance with Moscow due to the controversy over Iran's nuclear program. By late December 2007, Russia began to deliver enriched batches of nuclear fuel to Iran as a way of persuading Iran to end self-enrichment.

Ahmadinejad has sought to develop ties with other world leaders that are also opposed to U.S. foreign policy and influence like Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Venezuela voted in favor of Iran's nuclear program before the United Nations, and both governments have sought to develop more bilateral trade. As of 2006, the ties between the two countries are strategic rather than economic; Venezuela is still not one of Iran's major trading partners.

Immediately after the Islamic Revolution, Iran's relations with most of its neighbors, particularly those with large Shiite minorities, were severely strained. Ahmadinejad's priority in the region has been to improve ties with most of Iran's neighbors in order to strengthen Iran's status and influence in both the Middle East and Greater Muslim World.

Turkey has always been an important ally in the region due to its ties to the West through NATO, Israel, and its potential entry into the European Union. Ahmadinejad made a visit to Ankara in order to reinforce relations with Turkey immediately after the 2007 NIE report was released. Relations were briefly strained after President Abdullah Gul had stated that he wants the atomic threat to be eliminated from the region, perhaps a hint to Iran; however, business has remained cordial between the two countries. Despite US disapproval, Turkey recently signed a multibillion dollar gas line deal with Tehran in late 2007.

Iran's relations with the Arab states have been complex, partly due to the Islamic Revolution of decades ago, as well as more recent efforts by the United States to establish a united front against Iran over the nuclear issue and War on Terror. Ahmadinejad has sought reconciliation with the Arab states by encouraging bilateral trade and posturing for Iranian entry into the Gulf Cooperation Council. Outside of the Persian Gulf, Ahmadinejad has sought to reestablish relations with other major Arab states, most notably Egypt. As of 2007, Iran did not have an open embassy there.

Iran's ties to Syria have been most notable in the West. Both nations have had to deal with international and regional isolation. Further, they both have cordial ties to the militant group, Hezbollah, and concerns over Iran-Syria relations were further exacerbated following the 2006 Lebanon War, which both Ahmadinejad and President Assad claimed as a victory over Israel.

Due to the similar culture and language Iran has with Afghanistan, the two countries have historically been close and, even though the US has a military presence in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan maintains he wants Iran to be one of its closest allies. At Camp David in August 2007, Karzai rejected the U.S. claim that Iran backs Afghan militants. Karzai described Iran as "a helper and a solution," and "a supporter of Afghanistan", both in "the fight against terror, and the fight against narcotics". He called relations between Afghanistan and Iran "very, very good, very, very close ".

Ahmadinejad has also attempted to develop stronger, more intimate ties with both Afghanistan and Pakistan to the East in order to ensure "regional stability." In particular, Ahmadinejad is interested in more bilateral talks between Iran and both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Moreover, Ahmadinejad's administration has taken part in establishing the "peace pipeline"; a pipeline from Iran that will eventually fuel both Pakistan and India. In theory, the plan will help to integrate South Asian economies, and, by consequence, calm tensions between Pakistan and India.

Ahmadinejad met foreign minister Elmar Mammadyarov of Azerbaijan in order to discuss increased cooperation between the two nations. Mammadyarov also expressed desire to expand the North-South corridor between Iran and Azerbaijan and to launch cooperative projects regarding power plant construction. Iran has also redoubled efforts to forge ties with Armenia; during Ahmadinejad's visit in October 2007 the discussions were focused on developing energy ties between the two countries.

Ahmadinejad is the first Iranian president to visit Iraq. Ahmadinejad, in Baghdad 2 March 2008 for the start of a historic two-day trip, said "visiting Iraq without the dictator (Saddam Hussein) is a good thing." Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, heading home after a two-day visit to Iraq, again touted his country's closer relations with Iraq and reiterated his criticism of the United States.

In August 2006, the Iranian leader was reported to have again cast doubt on the existence of the Holocaust, this time in a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, where he wrote that the Holocaust may have been invented by the Allied powers to embarrass Germany.

On 11 December 2006 the "International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust" was held in Iran. The conference was called for by and held at the request of Ahmadinejad. Western media widely condemned the conference and described it as a "Holocaust denial conference" or a "meeting of Holocaust deniers", though Iran maintained that it was not a Holocaust denial conference, commenting the conference was meant to "create an opportunity for thinkers who cannot express their views freely in Europe about the Holocaust".

In his September 2007 appearance at Columbia University, Ahmadinejad stated "I'm not saying that it didn't happen at all. This is not judgment that I'm passing here" and that the Holocaust should be left open to debate and research like any other historical event.

In response to some of Ahmadinejad's controversial statements and actions, a variety of sources, including the U.S. Senate, have accused Ahmadinejad of anti-Semitism. Ahmadinejad's September 2008 speech to the UN General Assembly, in which he dwelled on what he described as Zionist control of international finance, was also denounced as "blatant anti-Semitism" by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Ahmadinejad has not denied the Holocaust or proposed Israel’s liquidation; he has never done so in any of his speeches on the subject (all delivered in Farsi/Persian). As an Iran specialist, I can attest that both accusations are false... What Ahmadinejad has questioned is the mythologizing, the sacralization, of the Holocaust and the “Zionist regime’s” continued killing of Palestinians and Muslims. He has even raised doubts about the scale of the Holocaust. His rhetoric has been excessive and provocative. And he does not really care what we in the West think about Iran or Muslims; he does not kowtow to western or Israeli diktat.

Dossa was criticized in Canadian media, by university president Sean Riley, and by 105 professors at his university for his attendance at Tehran's Holocaust conference. Dossa replied he did not know Holocaust deniers would be in attendance, that he has "never denied the Holocaust, only noted its propaganda power", and that the university should respect his academic freedom to participate.

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the 1979 Hostage Crisis

Some previous hostages have identified Ahmadinejad as the man in the military jacket on the hostage's left side.  Several other sources, including Ahmadinejad, and other hostage takers have disputed these identifications.

On June 29, 2005, shortly after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won the Iranian presidential election, several major news outlets publicized allegations that he participated in the 1979–1981 Iran Hostage Crisis.

Ahmadinejad and his political supporters have denied these allegations. Even his political opponents in Iran have specifically denied the allegations. The Iranian government stated that the allegations circulating against Ahmadinejad in the Western media are part of a smear campaign orchestrated by the United States and what Iranian officials have referred to as "Zionist media," directed against Ahmadinejad in specific and Iran in general.

On June 30, 2005, US President George W. Bush declared that these charges were serious.

The United States Department of Homeland Security initially found Ahmadeinjad ineligible for a visa to enter the US, citing "reason to believe" that he was involved in the seizure. The US Department of State interviewed hostages about their experiences.

A later CIA investigation determined "with relative certainty" that he was not involved in the takeover. Another U.S. official said of the report that there was "no evidence" that he was among the captors.

Shargh has identified the three main leaders of the takeover as Ebrahim Asgharzadeh, Mohsen Mirdamadi, and Habibolah Bitaraf.

Masoumeh Ebtekar, a spokeswoman for the hostage takers who was nicknamed "Sister Mary" by U.S. media during the crisis, said Ahmadinejad had actually been opposed to the takeover of the embassy. Ahmadinejad has also said that he did not support the embassy takeover until Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini endorsed it. The endorsement came late on November 4, 1979, the day the embassy was seized. Reportedly, Ahmadinejad argued that the protest ought to be directed at the Soviet embassy instead, and al-Jazeera reported that when OSU leaders planned the attack on the US embassy in 1979, Ahmadinejad actually proposed simultaneous action against the Soviet embassy.

Abolhassan Banisadr, the exiled former President of Iran stated that Ahmadinejad's job on the hostage holding team was to act as direct liaison reporting to Ayatollah Khomeini the status of the hostages. Bani-Sadr also reported that the photograph identified as Ahmadinejad was another agitator who was later imprisoned by Rafsanjani and "committed suicide" while in prison.

A CIA report has determined with "relative certainty" that Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was not involved in the taking of U.S. hostages 26 years ago, three government officials told CNN ... Another U.S. official said the tone of the report is that there is no evidence to date that the new Iranian president was among those who held U.S. diplomats hostage.

Several former hostages allege that during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis Ahmadinejad was one of the key individuals holding Americans inside the embassy.

A former Iranian secret agent said that the allegations were untrue: “I’m opposed to Ahmadinejad’s policies and thinking but he was not involved in the hostage drama nor in the assassination of an Iranian opposition Kurdish leader in Vienna.” A classified CIA report says the claim is not proven.

With Ahmadinejad's recent publicity, five former U.S. hostages Dr. William Daugherty (who worked for the CIA in Iran), Kevin Hermening, David Roeder, US Army Col. Charles Scott (Ret.), and US Navy Capt. Donald Sharer (Ret.) have alleged that Ahmadinejad was one of the leaders of the Iran Hostage Crisis at the U.S. embassy in Tehran, during their 444-day captivity starting on November 4, 1979. All of the above-mentioned hostages have claimed that Ahmadinejad is the man whom they remember from their captivity. Ahmadinejad denies his presence in the embassy, other hostages are unsure about the identification and the CIA has reportedly questioned this identification.

Col. Charles Scott, now seventy-three, recently told the Washington Times that "He was one of the top two or three leaders; the new president of Iran is a terrorist." Col. Scott claimed to recall an incident when Ahmadinejad berated a friendly Iranian guard who had allowed the two Americans to visit another U.S. hostage in a neighboring cell. Col. Scott, who understands Persian, said Ahmadinejad told the guard: "You shouldn't let these pigs out of their cells". Donald Sharer, a retired Navy captain who was for a time a cellmate of Col. Scott at the Evin prison in northern Tehran, remembered Ahmadinejad as "a hard-liner, a cruel individual". "I know he was an interrogator", said Capt. Sharer, now 64. Former hostages William Daugherty and Kevin Hermening also claim he was involved.

Scott and Roeder have also expressed certainty that Ahmadinejad was present at their interrogations. Scott asserted his certainty forcefully, stating: "This is the guy. There's no question about it. You could make him a blond and shave his whiskers, put him in a zoot suit and I'd still spot him." Both men, along with Sharer and Hermening, have stated their recollections of Ahmadinejad as an "extremely cruel" ringleader. Of the above men, only Hermening has expressed that he was not immediately sure that Ahmadinejad was involved in the Hostage Crisis.

However, former hostages USAF Col. Thomas E. Schaefer (Ret.), Paul Lewis (a former Marine embassy guard), and Barry Rosen (former embassy press attache) have expressed uncertainty regarding whether Ahmadinejad was actually involved. Schaefer stated that he does not recall Ahmadinejad by face or name, and Lewis expressed noticing a vague familiarity upon seeing Ahmadinejad's picture, but said that he could not be sure if Ahmadinejad was actually the same person as his captor. "My memories were more of the gun barrel, not the people behind it," stated Lewis. Rosen, while not claiming to personally recognize Ahmadinejad, professes to believe those who do claim to recognize the new Iranian President-elect. "When you're in a situation like that… it doesn't go away" Rosen stated.

There is no evidence to suggest that Ahmadinejad was one of the captors during the 1979 hostage-taking at the U.S. embassy in Tehran; the CIA itself has suggested he was not part of it. But here you get into a tricky position because the Bush administration is unwilling to contradict the American hostages. Five of the hostages have claimed that Ahmadinejad was one of their captors. The CIA, after a laborious investigation, has not accepted that claim. But politically, it's difficult for the Bush administration to take a position different from those who suffered 444 days of captivity.

Former Iranian president Abolhassan Banisadr claimed that Ahmadinejad was among those inside the Embassy but was not a decision maker. According to Banisadr, Ahmadinejad was not only present in the occupied compound, but served as liaison between the hostage-takers and Ali Khamenei, the Friday prayer leader of Tehran at that time. (He stated Khamenei himself, today Iran’s Supreme Leader, visited the hostage-takers repeatedly in the compound.) Bani-Sadr also confirmed that Ahmadinejad was initially opposed to the hostage-taking but once Khomeini gave his agreement, he changed his mind.

Many of the former hostage takers have stated that Ahmadinejad was in no way involved in the Hostage Crisis. Bijan Abidi, one of the hostage takers, said that "There was no one by that name (Ahmadinejad) among the students who took part in the U.S. Embassy seizure." Mohsen Mirdamadi, one of the student leaders, and Masoumeh Ebtekar, the spokeswoman of the students who later became a Vice President under President Khatami, have also denied Ahmadinejad's involvement. Abbas Abdi, another leader of the embassy takeover, and subsequently a political opponent of Ahmadinejad, expressed certainty that Ahmadinejad was not involved. "Definitely he was not among the students who took part in the seizure," Abdi said. "He was not part of us. He played no role in the seizure, let alone being responsible for security ." Rosen has stated that Abdi lacks credibility on this issue. Rosen reported that Abdi told him personally during a 1998 meeting in Paris that Abdi, while heavily involved in the embassy takeover, was never actually inside the embassy building. "So he can't maintain that was or wasn't," Rosen stated.

An aide to Ahmadinejad, Meisam Rowhani, denied all claims that Ahmadinejad was involved in the Hostage Crisis. Rowhani stated that Ahmadinejad was asked during recent private meetings if he had a role in the hostage taking. Rowhani said he replied, "No. I believed that if we do that the world will swallow us." Although Ahmadinejad has publicly expressed support for the hostage taking, he has claimed that he only supported the embassy takeover after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini expressed support, and that he was never actually involved.

Iran Focus, one of numerous web outlets of the MKO militant group (based in Camp Ashraf, Iraq) originally claimed that they had obtained a photograph of a younger Ahmadinejad with a hostage, which was quickly published by the major Western news agencies AP, Reuters, and AFP. Publication of the photograph drew criticism because it was presented to the world without due investigation or verification.

In response to the publication Saeed Hajjarian, a reformist politician with a background in intelligence, denied that the picture is Ahmadinejad. Hajjarian told Associated Press and later ISNA that the person in the photograph is a student named Taghi Mohammadi. Associated Press and other sources reported that Mohammadi was a militant who later turned into a dissident. He was arrested for being connected to the MKO and was involved in the assassinations of President Mohammad Ali Rajai and Prime Minister Mohammad Javad Bahonar. He committed suicide in jail.

Alternatively,Ebrahim Asgharzadeh, one of the spokesmen for the hostage-taking students, identified the figure in the photo as "Ranjbaran". Asgharzadeh claims Ranjbaran was hanged for being a spy for MKO.

On July 2, 2005 the LA Times reported that "A U.S. official familiar with the investigation of Ahmadinejad's role said that analysts had found "serious discrepancies" between the figure depicted in the 1979 photo and images of the Iranian president. The discrepancies included differences in facial structure and features. Ahmadinejad is about 15 cm. (6 inches) shorter than the man in the photo.

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Controversies surrounding Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Iranian militants escort a blindfolded U.S. hostage to the media. Some Former Hostages have identified the man at the Hostages left side to be Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. However Ahmadinejad and the CIA have disputed these allegations.

Criticism of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad became rampant after his election victory on June 29, 2005. These include charges that he participated in the 1979-1981 Iran Hostage Crisis, assassinations of Kurdish politicians in Austria, torture, interrogation and executions of political prisoners in the Evin prison in Tehran. Ahmadinejad and his political supporters have denied these allegations.

From before the second round of the elections, in late July 2005, there have also been allegations of political corruption from Ahmadinejad's political opponents inside Iran, especially his opponents in the reformist parties.

According to Iran Focus, soon after attending Elm-o Sanaat University in 1975 to study engineering, Ahmadinejad was caught up in the Islamic revolution of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Ahmadinejad founded the Islamic Student Association at his university. By 1979, he became a representative of Office for Strengthening of Unity Between Universities and Theological Seminaries, later known as OSU. The OSU was organized by Ayatollah Mohammad Beheshti, one of Khomeini's top advisors. Members of the OSU central council, including Ahmadinejad, Ibrahim Asgharzadeh, Mohsen (Mahmoud) Mirdamadi, Mohsen Kadivar, Mohsen Aghajari, and Abbas Abdi, were regularly received by Khomeini himself. The OSU leadership played a key role in the crackdown on dissident university professors and students during the Islamic Cultural Revolution of 1980. Many professors and students who did not support Khomeini were arrested and executed.

In voting for storming the US embassy, Ahmadinejad objected, arguing that the protest ought to be directed at the Soviet embassy, but they were outvoted. Ahmadinejad has said that he did not support the embassy takeover until Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini endorsed it. The endorsement came late on November 4, 1979, the day the embassy was seized.

According to al-Jazeera, when OSU leaders proposed taking over the US embassy in 1979, Ahmadinejad proposed taking over the Soviet embassy at the same time.

In 2005, several Former hostages of the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis claim that a Basij Militant who frequently interrogated and transported hostages (see Picture) was Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad. This claim which was brought up several weeks after Ahmadinejad's Inauguration, was taken to the FBI and CIA for more Investigation between Ahmadinejad and the person to the hostages left side in the photograph. Although the FBI is still investigating, the CIA currently claims that the man to the hostages left side is not Ahmadinejad and according to known existing photos of Ahmadinejad in the 70's does not match the Looks of the Militant. The FBI however claims, according to their research, this could be Ahmadinjad because there is no clear record of his life from 1978-1981 (Note: the years of the Hostage Crisis). However the FBI cannot use Biometric Iris Identification to match Ahmadinejad's eyes to the man in the picture because the man's eyes are too shielded to provide any clear information.

Ahmadinejad, who was a member of the Basij during the Revolution, denied taking any part in The Hostage Crisis and claims that he was against it from the beginning, although he did admit that he urged the planners of the crisis to take over the Soviet embassy. A reason he cited, was that the USSR was an atheist regime, and he believed it would have reduced MKO resistance in Iran.

This allegation has been denied by several sources in Iran, including Saeed Hajjarian, a political opponent of Ahmadinejad. Also notable among the deniers, is Ali Rabiee, the intelligence advisor to the reformist President Khatami, who stated "during the mentioned accident happened, I was present in action regions of northwest and western Iran, and at that time Mr. Ahmadinejad was only involved at the civil construction work in the governing offices of Maku and the province". At the same time, the allegation has been echoed by a spokesman for the People's Mujahedin of Iran, an opposition group in exile.

Also, observers have been skeptical of Pilz's allegations after he refused to disclose any evidence claiming that it would endanger the life of the witness. Also, the accusations have died down after the presidential election, and no clear evidence has been provided that would support the accusations.

During the Iranian presidential election of 2005, some people, including Mehdi Karroubi, a reformist candidate who ranked third in the election, alleged that a network of mosques, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and Basij militia forces, have been illegally used to generate and mobilize support for Ahmadinejad. Karroubi has explicitly alleged that Mojtaba Khamenei, a son of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, is involved. Ahmadinejad's supporters consider these to be false allegations. Furthermore, Khamenei has written to Karroubi stating that his allegations are "below his dignity" and "will result in a crisis"; in Iran, which he will not allow. As a reply, Karroubi resigned from all his political posts, including his positions as an adviser to the Supreme Leader and as a member of the Expediency Discernment Council, both of which he had been appointed to directly by Khamenei. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, Ahmadinejad's rival in the second round, has also pointed to what he claims are "organized and unjust" interventions conducted by "guiding" the votes, and has supported Karroubi's complaint. Rafsanjani also alleged a "dirty tricks" campaign had "illegally" propelled Ahmadinejad into the presidency, an allegation which he strongly denies. In the same statement, Rafsanjani stated that he would only appeal the election results to "God", and recommended accepting the results and "assisting" the new president-elect.

Some political groups, including the reformist party Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), allege that Ahmadinejad received illegal support and advertising activities from supervisors selected by the Guardian Council who should have remained nonpartisan according to the election law. Also, the reformist newspaper Shargh pointed out an announcement by Movahhedi Kermani, the official representative of the Supreme Leader in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, who was quoted as saying, "vote for a person who keeps to the minimum in his advertisements and doesn't lavish," which uniquely pointed to Ahmadinejad, whose supporters touted as being not wealthy.

In December 2005 President Ahmadinejad banned Western and "offensive" music from state-run radio and television stations. The ban follows a ruling in October by the Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council to ban Western songs from Iranian airwaves.

Popular forms of western music (hip-hop, rock, jazz) have however been banned in Iran for many years, since the days of Khomeini. At the same time, some forms of western music, such as classical music, are regularly aired on state radios.

On 16 January 2006, Cable News Network (CNN) was temporarily banned in Iran by the Iranian Ministry of Culture, after misreporting the remarks by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made during a press conference held on 14 January 2006. The president, talking to domestic and foreign reporters, said the peaceful use of nuclear energy is a right which Iran cannot be denied. However, a CNN interpreter incorrectly quoted Ahmadinejad as saying "the use of nuclear weapons is Iran's right." CNN later apologised for its mistake. Ahmadinejad allowed CNN to resume broadcasting on 17 January 2006 after the apology. In his letter to the Minister of Culture, he wrote 'We believe that accurate dissemination of news and information is necessary for political growth and awareness as well as effective interaction among nations in today's world.

Since the Iranian Revolution, no Iranian reporters have been allowed to enter the United States or take part in a press conference of the U.S. President. Reporters employed by the state-run IRIB have only been allowed to cover UN events and are only able to travel within a 17 mile radius of New York City. For this reason several IRIB reporters criticised President Ahmadinejad on his support for CNN.

A campaign, led by Iran's Islamist president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, attempts to free the country of Western cultural influences, via the Internet. Human rights groups, YouTube and b3ta are amongst the major Web sites blocked. Reporters Without Borders branded Iran, along with 13 other countries, as "enemies of the Internet" in November 2006.

Iran has about 7.5 million Internet users which is the highest number of web users in the Middle East. The country also has more than 100,000 bloggers, some of which are substitutes for Iran's suppressed, reformist press.

Critics accuse Iran of using filtering technology to censor more sites than any country, except the People's Republic of China. Until now, targets have been mainly linked to opposition groups or those deemed "immoral" under Iran's Islamic legal code. Some news sites, such as the BBC's Persian service, are also blocked.

On the last day when I was speaking before the assembly, one of our group told me that when I started to say "In the name of God the almighty and merciful," he saw a light around me, and I was placed inside this aura. I felt it myself.

I felt the atmosphere suddenly change, and for those 27 or 28 minutes, the leaders of the world did not blink. When I say they didn't bat an eyelid, I'm not exaggerating because I was looking at them. And they were rapt.

It seemed as if a hand was holding them there and had opened their eyes to receive the message from the Islamic republic.

Some have conjectured that his actions are strictly a means of bolstering his standing among Islamic fundamentalists.

On September 24, 2007 Ahmadinejad appeared at Columbia University. President Lee Bollinger received harsh criticism for inviting such a controversial figure to Columbia. He responded in a statement saying "The event will be part of the annual World Leaders Forum, the University-wide initiative intended to further Columbia’s longstanding tradition of serving as a major forum for robust debate, especially on global issues, and also for closing the area to outside protesters. . Columbia University's president, Lee Bollinger, introduced Ahmadinejad with a combative tone: "Mr. President you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator." Ahmadinejad responded by opening his speech saying that his introduction was "an insult to information and knowledge of the audience there." Some of his arguments were met with derisive laughter, for example "... in Iran we don't have homosexuals, like in your country. We don't have that in our country. In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who told you that we have it." An aide later claimed that he was misrepresented and was saying that "compared to American society, we don't have many homosexuals".

He however was applauded when he spoke about the Palestinian peoples' right to self-determination. He spoke on the issue of the September 11, 2001 attacks that "if the root causes of 9/11 are examined properly, why it happened, what caused it, what conditions led to it, who was involved, and put together how to understand and how to prevent the crisis in Iraq, fix the problem in Afghanistan and Iraq combined". He also stated "the most liberated women in the world are the women in Iran". Regarding the Holocaust he said "granted this happened, what does this have to do with the Palestinian people?" He used Koranic quotes to criticize the Bush administration and the bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima. He also stated the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear ambitions. Outside the convention many protested his presence there, most of them supporters of Jewish organizations .

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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Israel

During his presidency, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speeches and statements have contributed to increased tensions between Iran and Israel, and between Iran and several Western nations.

Our dear Imam (referring to Ayatollah Khomeini) said that the occupying regime must be wiped off the map and this was a very wise statement. We cannot compromise over the issue of Palestine. Is it possible to create a new front in the heart of an old front. This would be a defeat and whoever accepts the legitimacy of this regime has in fact, signed the defeat of the Islamic world. Our dear Imam targeted the heart of the world oppressor in his struggle, meaning the occupying regime. I have no doubt that the new wave that has started in Palestine, and we witness it in the Islamic world too, will eliminate this disgraceful stain from the Islamic world.

The speech also indicated that the Iranian President considered Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip to be a trick, designed to gain acknowledgement from Islamic states. In a rally held two days later, Ahmadinejad declared that his words reflected the views of the Iranian people, adding that Westerners are free to comment, but their reactions are invalid.

Many news sources repeated the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) statement that Ahmadinejad had demanded that "Israel must be wiped off the map", an English idiom which means to "cause a place to stop existing", or to "obliterate totally", or "destroy completely".

Ahmadinejad's phrase was " بايد از صفحه روزگار محو شود " according to the text published on the President's Office's website, and was a quote of Ayatollah Khomeini.

The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e eshghalgar-e qods) must the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad).

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) translates the phrase similarly. On June 2, 2006 The Guardian columnist and foreign correspondent Jonathan Steele published an article based on this reasoning.

Sources within the Iranian government have also denied that Ahmadinejad issued any sort of threat. On 20 February 2006, Iran's foreign minister denied that Tehran wanted to see Israel "wiped off the map," saying Ahmadinejad had been misunderstood. "Nobody can remove a country from the map. This is a misunderstanding in Europe of what our president mentioned," Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference, speaking in English, after addressing the European Parliament. "How is it possible to remove a country from the map? He is talking about the regime. We do not recognize legally this regime," he said.

In a June 11, 2006 analysis of the translation controversy, New York Times deputy foreign editor and Israeli resident Ethan Bronner argued that Ahmadinejad had called for Israel to be wiped off the map. After noting the objections of critics such as Cole and Steele, Bronner stated: "But translators in Tehran who work for the president's office and the foreign ministry disagree with them. All official translations of Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement, including a description of it on his website, refer to wiping Israel away." Bronner continued: " is hard to argue that, from Israel's point of view, Mr. Ahmadinejad poses no threat. Still, it is true that he has never specifically threatened war against Israel. So did Iran's president call for Israel to be 'wiped off the map'? It certainly seems so. Did that amount to a call for war? That remains an open question." This elicited a further response from Jonathan Steele.

Shiraz Dossa, a professor of Political Science at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada who presented a paper at the International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust conference in Iran, believes the text is a mistranslation.

Ahmadinejad was quoting the Ayatollah Khomeini in the specific speech under discussion: what he said was that "the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time." No state action is envisaged in this lament; it denotes a spiritual wish, whereas the erroneous translation—"wipe Israel off the map"—suggests a military threat. There is a huge chasm between the correct and the incorrect translations. The notion that Iran can "wipe out" U.S.-backed, nuclear-armed Israel is ludicrous.

Speaking at a D-8 summit meeting in July 2008, when asked to comment on whether he has called for the destruction of Israel he denied that his country would ever instigate military action, there being "no need for any measures by the Iranian people". Instead he claimed that "the Zionist regime" in Israel would eventually collapse on its own. "I assure you... there won't be any war in the future," both the BBC and AP quoted him as saying.

And asked if he objected to the government of Israel or Jewish people, he said that "creating an objection against the Zionists doesn't mean that there are objections against the Jewish". He added that Jews lived in Iran and were represented in the country's parliament.

If they want to keep the Zionists, they can stay ... Whatever the people decide, we will respect it. I mean, it's very much in correspondence with our proposal to allow Palestinian people to decide through free referendums.

His statements were morally outrageous and historically ignorant, but he did not actually call for mass murder (Ariel Sharon made the "occupation regime" in Gaza "vanish" last summer ) or for the expulsion of the Israeli Jews to Europe.

Gawdat Bahgat, Director of Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, commenting on this saying of Ahmadinejad and Iran's nuclear program states: "The fiery calls to destroy Israel are meant to mobilize domestic and regional constituencies. Iran has no plan to attack Israel with its nuclear arsenal and powerful conventional military capabilities. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni summed up his country’s stand on the Arab-Israeli conflict by stressing, ' Palestine issue is not Iran’s jihad.'" In fact, Bahgat says that according to most analysts a military confrontation between Iran and Israel is unlikely.

BLITZER: But should there be a state of Israel?

SOLTANIEH: I think I've already answered to you. If Israel is a synonym and will give the indication of Zionism mentality, no. But if you are going to conclude that we have said the people there have to be removed or they have to be massacred or so, this is fabricated, unfortunate selective approach to what the mentality and policy of Islamic Republic of Iran is. I have to correct, and I did so.

Iran's stated policy on Israel is to urge a one-state solution through a countrywide referendum. Juan Cole and others interpret Ahmadinejad's statements to be an endorsement of the one-state solution, in which a government would be elected that all Palestinians and all Israelis would jointly vote for; which would normally be an end to the "Zionist state".

TIME: You have been quoted as saying Israel should be wiped off the map. Was that merely rhetoric, or do you mean it?

Ahmadinejad: Our suggestion is that the 5 million Palestinian refugees come back to their homes, and then the entire people on those lands hold a referendum and choose their own system of government. This is a democratic and popular way.

The day immediately following Ahmadinejad's statements, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called for Iran to be expelled from the United Nations and Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. In that meeting, all fifteen members condemned Ahmadinejad's remarks.

Ahmadinejad's remark found support among Anti-Zionism Jewish groups. A spokesperson for one such organisation argued a distinction, saying Iran's leader had not called for the elimination of Jews but rather the illegal and illegitimate Zionist movement.

The White House stated that Ahmadinejad's rhetoric showed that it was correct in trying to halt Iran's nuclear program. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was dismayed by the comments, and reiterated Iran's obligations and Israel's right of existence under the UN Charter.

EU leaders issued a strong condemnation of the Iranian President's remarks, stating that "alls for violence, and for the destruction of any state, are manifestly inconsistent with any claim to be a mature and responsible member of the international community." On November 17, the European Parliament adopted a resolution condemning Ahmadinejad's remarks and called on him to retract his bellicose comments in their entirety and to recognise the state of Israel and its right to live in peace and safety. Then Prime Minister of Canada Paul Martin also condemned the comments on several occasions.

On June 20, 2007, the United States House of Representatives passed Resolution 21, a resolution that pressures the United Nations Security Council to charge Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with violating the 1948 Convention on Genocide and the United Nations Charter because of his alleged call for Israel to be "wiped off the map". Congressman Dennis Kucinich attempted to include in the Congressional record independent translations of the speech from The New York Times and the Middle East Media Research Institute that translated the phrase as "the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time" saying "The resolution passed by the House today sets a dangerous precedent in foreign affairs. A mistranslation could become a cause of war. The United States House may unwittingly be setting the stage for a war with Iran". Members of the House objected and inclusion of the independent translations were blocked.

Former president Khatami stated "those words have created hundreds of political and economic problems for us in the world." Khatami has also recently accused Ahmadinejad and his supporters of being an Iranian "Taliban" and giving the enemies of Iran "... the best excuse to attack Islam and Iran." Others in Iran have said that there is nothing new about his statements and that the West has overreacted in order to try to smear Iran's international image.

In 2005 Khamenei responded to President Ahmadinejad's alleged remark that Israel should be "wiped of the map" by saying that "the Islamic Republic has never threatened and will never threaten any country." Moreover Khamenei's main advisor in foreign policy, Ali Akbar Velayati, refused to take part in Holocaust conference. In contrast to Ahmadinejad's remarks, Velayati said that Holocaust was a genocide and a historical reality.

Some European countries insist on saying that during World War II, Hitler burned millions of Jews and put them in concentration camps... Any historian, commentator or scientist who doubts that is taken to prison or gets condemned. Although we don't accept this claim, if we suppose it is true, if the Europeans are honest they should give some of their provinces in Europe — like in Germany, Austria or other countries — to the Zionists and the Zionists can establish their state in Europe. You offer part of Europe and we will support it.

Actually the case has been misunderstood. (Ahmadinejad) did not mean to raise this matter. wanted to say that if others harmed the Jewish community and created problems for the Jewish community, they have to pay the price themselves. People like the Palestinian people or other nations should not pay the price (for it).

Ahmadinejad also stated that Israel "has reached the end like a dead rat after being slapped by the Lebanese", which is presumably a reference to the July-August 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah.

In a subsequent speech, Ahmadinejad stated "The Zionist regime is dying," and that "The criminals imagine that by holding celebrations (...) they can save the Zionist regime from death." Ahmadinejad also stated that "They should know that regional nations hate this fake and criminal regime and if the smallest and briefest chance is given to regional nations they will destroy (it)".

I would like to declare that the idea of "smaller Israel" is also dead. The very notion of Israel is dead, but they are lagging behind the times. Just like the idea of Greater Israel died 30 years ago, and they did not realize this, and have continued to perpetrate crimes for 30 years... Today, I say to them: The idea of smaller Israel is dead.

The Zionist regime has lost its raison d'être. Today, the Palestinians identify with your name , your memory, and in your path. They are walking in your illuminated path and the Zionist regime has reached a total dead end. Thanks to God, your wish will soon be realized, and this germ of corruption will be wiped off.

The Zionists are crooks. A small handful of Zionists, with a very intricate organization, have taken over the power centers of the world. According to our estimates, the main cadre of the Zionists consists of 2,000 individuals at most, and they have another 8,000 activists. In addition, they have several informants, who spy and provide them with intelligence information. But because of their control of power centers in the U.S. and Europe, and their control of the financial centers and the news and propaganda agencies, they spread propaganda as if they were the entire world, as if all the peoples supported them, and as if they were the majority ruling the world.

Of this new speech, three reports exist, a long one from IRNA and two small ones from BBC and CNN. IRNA is the Iranian state news agency. CNN declares to base its story on IRIB, another Iranian agency. The sentence in which ‘Holocaust’ and ‘myth’ are connected to each other is translated differently in these three versions. The translation given by the BBC has been labeled by the BBC itself as ‘Holocaust denial’. Israel, the U.S., the European Commission and several individual European countries have reacted shocked and indignant on some supposed statements from Ahmadinejad. Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Mark Regev said, the Iranian regime holds a “perverse vision of the world”. Germany’s foreign minister called Ahmadinejad’s remarks “shocking and unacceptable”. The White House spokesman said, the comments underline the need to “keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons”. A European Commission spokeswoman called the comments “completely unacceptable”.

In February 2006, Former President Mohammad Khatami clearly rejected Ahmadinejad's remarks by calling the Holocaust a "historic fact".

In August 2006, the ‘Deutsche Welle’ citing AFP citing the German news agency Mehr, and ‘Mail & Guardian Online’ citing Mehr reported that Ahmadinejad had written a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in which he suggested, the victorious Allied powers in World War II may have invented the Holocaust to embarrass Germany. "Is it not a reasonable possibility that some countries that had won the war made up this excuse to constantly embarrass the defeated people ... to bar their progress," Ahmadinejad reportedly wrote in the letter. Merkel indicated that she would not formally respond to the letter, saying it contained "totally unacceptable" criticism of Israel and "constantly put in question" the Jewish state's right to exist.

In a September 2006 with NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams, Ahmadinejad clarified his remarks, saying that when he called the Holocaust a myth he was merely trying to communicate that it was not just Jews that died, but millions of people and he wants to know why it is the Palestinian people that have to pay for the Nazis' slaughter of the Jewish people.

In the second World War, over 60 million people lost their lives. They were all human beings. Why is it that only a select group of those who were killed have become so prominent and important? Do you think that the 60 million who lost their lives were all at the result of warfare alone? There were two million that were part of the military at the time, perhaps altogether, 50 million civilians with no roles in the war — Christians, Muslims. They were all killed. The second and more important question that I raised was, if this event happened, and if it is a historical event, then we should allow everyone to research it and study it. The more research and studies are done, the clearer the issue gets. We still leave open to further studies absolute knowledge of science or math. Historical events are always subject to revisions, and reviews and studies. We're still revising our thoughts about what happened over thousands of years ago. Why is it that researchers are jailed? Why is researching this issue prohibitited? Where as we can openly question God, the prophet, concepts such as freedom and democracy? And the third question that I raised in this regard: assuming that this happened, where did it happen? Did the Palestinian people have anything to do with it? Why should the Palestinians pay for it now? Five million displaced Palestinian people is what I'm talking about. Over 60 years of living under terror. Losing the lives of thousands of dear ones. And homes that are destroyed on a daily basis over people's heads. You might argue that the Jews have the right to have a government. We're not against that. But where? At a place where their people were — several people will vote for them, and where they can govern.

On December 11, 2006 the "International Conference to Review the Global Vision of the Holocaust" opened, to widespread condemnation. The conference, called for by and held at the behest of Ahmadinejad, was widely described as a "Holocaust denial conference" or a "meeting of Holocaust deniers", though Iran insisted it was not a Holocaust denial conference.

For 60 years they allowed no one to question and cast doubt on the logic of the Holocaust and its very essence - because if the truth were to be exposed, nothing would remain of their logic of liberal democracy. It is the very advocates of liberal democracy who defend the Holocaust, who have sanctified it to the point where none may enter. Breaking the padlock of the Holocaust and reexamining it will be tantamount to cutting the vital arteries of the Zionist regime. It will destroy the philosophical foundation and raison d'être of this regime...I invite the dear researchers, intellectuals, young people and students, who are the trailblazers, to reexamine not only the Holocaust, but also its consequences and aftermath and inform others of their studies and research. Let us not forget that more than ever before, the Zionist network, which came up with the issue of the Holocaust, must be exposed, and be presented to the peoples as it really is.

Within Iran, Ahmadinejad's statements on the Holocaust have also been criticized by cleric and presidential hopeful Mahdi Karroubi.

Criticism of Ahmadinejad's comments denying the Holocaust and calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map" has come from the U.S. Senate, which passed a unanimous resolution condemning his "harmful, destructive, and anti-semitic statements." Identification of Ahmadinejad with anti-semitism has come from a variety of sources.

The Iranian government has responded that "the Western media empire is trying to portray Iran as an anti-semitic country" and alternate translations have been cited to contradict the accusations. Currently, 40,000 Jews live in Iran and have representation in the Iranian parliament in the form of a Jewish MP, Maurice Mohtamed. Their treatment is a matter of great debate, some stating that the Jews are treated better than other religious minorities in Iran.

In addition Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stated that "Jews are respected by everyone, by all human beings ... some people think if they accuse me of being anti-Jew they can solve the problem. No, I am not anti-Jew ... I respect them very much ... We love everyone in the world — Jews, Christians, Muslims, non-Muslims, non-Jews, non-Christians".

Ahmadinejad's September 2008 speech to the UN General Assembly, in which he dwelled on what he described as Zionist control of international finance, was denounced as "blatant anti-Semitism" by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Hopefully, the news that the criminal of Sabra and Shatila has joined his ancestors is final.

On July 15 2006, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad compared the actions of Israel in launching an offensive against Lebanon to that of Nazi Germany. "Hitler sought pretexts to attack other nations," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the ISNA students news agency at the inauguration of a Tehran road tunnel. "The Zionist regime is seeking baseless pretexts to invade Islamic countries and right now it is justifying its attacks with groundless excuses," he added.

Esfandyar Rahim Mashaei, Vice President and Head of Cultural Heritage Organization of Iran, proclaimed Iran a friend to the people in Israel in his speech at a tourism convention in Tehran. This sentiment is similar to the "one state" solution . He also added that Iran "wants no war with any country," and insisted that Iran's actions during its war with Iraq were purely defensive.

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Source : Wikipedia