"At the outset, I want to complain a bit on the person who read this political statement against me. In Iran, tradition requires that when we demand a person to invite us as a -- to be a speaker, we actually respect our students and the professors by allowing them to make their own judgment, and we don't think it's necessary before the speech is even given to come in -- (applause) -- with a series of claims and to attempt in a so-called manner to provide vaccination of some sort to our students and our faculty.Update:
I think the text read by the (dear ?) gentleman here, more than addressing me, was an insult to information and the knowledge of the audience here, present here. In a university environment, we must allow people to speak their mind, to allow everyone to talk so that the truth is eventually revealed by all. Most certainly he took more than all the time I was allocated to speak. And that's fine with me. We'll just leave that to add up with the claims of respect for freedom and the freedom of speech that is given to us in this country."
Dr. Farhang Jahanpour asks two interesting questions:
For the sake of argument, let us imagine that the shoe had been on the other foot. Let us imagine that the president of Tehran University had invited President Bush to speak at Tehran University and then had introduced him in the following manner: "Mr president! You have launched an illegal and immoral war against a nation that you falsely accused of possessing nuclear weapons. You killed over a million of its innocent people. You drove 2.4 millions away from their homes to be refugees in their own country, and you have driven another two million Iraqis into neighbouring countries that you also demonise. You have stolen their oil, shattered their country, destroyed its infrastructure, its civil society, and its civilian and military administration. You have created sectarian strife in a country where millions of Kurds, Shi'is and Sunnis had lived in peace for many centuries. You created torture chambers in Abu-Ghraib and Guantanamo and scores of secret torture cells in different parts of the world. Domestically, you have imposed unprecedented surveillance on your people and have undermined their democratic rights. You have arrested a number of Iranian officials in Iraq without any justification and are still holding them despite the pleas of Iraqi leaders that they should be released. You have committed all these atrocities in the name of spreading democracy and human rights. This is a travesty of truth. Will you cease this outrage?"...
Or let us imagine that Bollinger had invited the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to speak at Columbia University and had described him in the following vein: "Mr Prime Minister! You are a petty and cruel war criminal. Last year you launched a barbaric and devastating attack on your defenceless neighbour Lebanon – the fourth such invasion – and killed and wounded thousands of innocent Lebanese men, women and children. You demolished people's homes and apartments on top of their inhabitants. You indiscriminately bombed bridges, power stations, factories, mosques, churches and airports. On the last two days of your illegal invasion you scattered nearly three million cluster bombs over farms and residential areas in southern Lebanon, which is a war crime, and these kill and maim a large number of Lebanese people, especially children, each day. You have created a concentration camp for 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza, who had been driven from their homes by you and by your predecessors, and you attack them from air, land and sea. In the past year alone, you have killed hundreds of Palestinians, including their elected representatives. You prevent anyone from getting in or out. You have even threatened to cut off all essential services to them. According to UN figures, some 80 per cent of the population is now living in absolute misery and poverty as the result of your actions. You continue to occupy Palestinian lands and build more illegal settlements on stolen land. Your government has secretly amassed a large arsenal of nuclear bombs in contravention of international laws, and yet you advocate war on a country that only wishes to have access to nuclear technology under the IAEA supervision. Will you cease this outrage?"