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Stop Ahmadinejad!
Successful rally against the UN-address of the Iranian President in Vienna

Occasioned by the address of the holocaust denier and President of the Iranian terror regime to the general assembly of the United Nations, about 300 people gathered in front of the opera house in Vienna on September 23. Their protest was directed against the policy of appeasement towards the Iranian regime and against the economic support of the dictatorship of the Ayatollahs and the Revolutionary Guards. The rally in one of the host cities of the United Nations coincided with a number of international protests. STOP THE BOMB, an alliance that has been urging harsh sanctions against the Iranian regime and the support of the opposition since late 2007 had organized the rally which attracted a remarkable number of protesters by Viennese standards. The event was supported by the Liberal Forum, the Greens “andersrum”, the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde, the Democratic Party Kurdistan-Iran and numerous organizations of students, Iranian exiles as well as Christian, Jewish and anti-fascist groups.

participants           participants

STOP THE BOMB spokesperson Simone Dinah Hartmann stressed that “Austria should not continue to collaborate and thereby support the policy of brutal suppression and the development of the Iranian bomb. Instead it needs to prohibit trade relations of Austrian companies which are endorsing the Iranian regime and it has to push for putting the Revolutionary Guards on the list of European Union’s list of terrorist organizations”. Madeleine Petrovic of the Green Party and Ronald Pohoryles of the Liberal Forum made similar claims. Barbad Farhani of the Alliance of a secular and democratic Iran condemned the support that Ahmadinejad receives not only from Europe, but also from politicians including Chavez and Castro. The green member of the Landtag, Marco Schreuder, called to mind that thousands of gay and lesbian people have been murdered in Iran since 1979. Heribert Schiedel, expert for right-wing extremism and speaker for Action against Anti-semitism called attention to the systematic denial of the holocaust by the Regime in Teheran and points to the positive attitude of European neo-Nazis towards the Iranian dictatorship. Representing the Democratic Party Kurdistan-Iran, Hiwa Bahrami requested the “immediate termination of the dialogue with representatives of the Iranian regime in all matters, political, scientific, religious, and economic”. He called for “the consequent support of the opposition that stands for democracy, secularism, and the rule of law”. Ariel Muzicant, president of the Israelitische Kultusgemeinde and one of the keynote speakers at the event stressed the extistential threat that the Iranian nuclear program poses to Israel. As SPÖ politician Peter Florianschütz also did, he pointed out the disastrous consequences of an Iranian bomb for the whole region and, ultimately, for the whole world. Both Muzicant and Florianschütz pronounced themselves in favour of effective sanctions against the Iranian regime.

Petrovic           Muzicant

Notably, the criticism of the Austrian UN delegates’ deference to Ahmadinejad levelled the next day by STOP THE BOMB and others who had spoken at the event, met with a wide response of the media. In a message read out at the rally, district commissioner and former head of the ÖVP delegation to the European parliament Ursula Stenzel had expressed hope that the Austrian UN delegates follow the example of numerous other states and at the very least leave the assembly room during Ahmadinejad’s speech. In another message, Alexander van der Bellen, spokesperson on foreign affairs of the Austrian Green party, had taken a similar stance stating he held hopes for Austria to set an example of protest during the Iranian president’s appearance. However, unlike other European delegations the Austrian representatives stayed to listen willingly to the whole venomous speech.

participants           participants

In a subsequent press release Alexander van der Bellen showed disappointment, “Not only should Austria have protested against Ahmadinejad’s outrageous attacks against Israel, it should have shown solidarity with the democratic movement in Iran by denouncing the suppression of the Iranian opposition.” All important publications among the Austrian media cited Ariel Muzicant’s criticism, “it seems that the Austrian foreign policy refrains even from symbolic gestures of protest against the Iranian regime for fear of jeopardizing the continually excellent trade relations of Austrian companies with Iran”. He was also cited for his observation, “it is those economic relations and with them the Austrian policy that help keeping the anti-Semitic regime in Tehran alive and its nuclear program on track.” On behalf of STOP THE BOMB, Simone Dinah Hartmann criticized that the Austrian policy “undermines the freedom movement in Iran” and that “it is obviously of no importance to the Austrian foreign policy that denial of the holocaust is a criminal offence in this country.”

Florianschütz           Schreuder

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