Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appeared before the U.N. General Assembly and gave a half hour speech that emphasized mainly on Israel, which he refused to call by name and described as “uncivilized Zionists.”
The speech took place at the United Nations located in New York. Members of the delegation from the U.S., Canada and Israel were not in attendance. Ahmadinejad blasted Israel for relying on military threats and intimidation, which he claims have led to a divide in international relations.
The speech came just a day after President Obama told the same assembly that a threat to Israel would be imminent if Iran were to reach nuclear capabilities. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has also chimed in and said that Iran must not be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons.
Overall, Ahmadinejad’s speech was surprisingly subdued. Most in attendance expected the Iranian president to spew out a fury tongue lashing at Israel; however, his tone was less provocative than what most are accustomed to hearing. Aside from Israel, Ahmadinejad also spoke of the return of Jesus Christ along with the Islamic end-time messiah, the 12th Imam. He called for peace among people of all spiritual backgrounds and insisted that there is no hostility between people of different faiths.
He also emphasized on the importance of human rights and called for the end of oppression, poverty and discrimination. He further went on to say that the return of Christ and the Imam will put an end to all wars and bring about everlasting peace. Like most other Muslims, Ahmadinejad believes that Jesus was one of God’s prophets but that he was not a divine figure.
The nature of the speech by the Iranian president has certainly caught many off guard. CNN commentator Piers Morgan says that for a man of Ahmadinejad’s nature, the speech was actually reasonable and low key.
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Salman Rushdie is a British author credited for publishing many successful novels and essays. He has also been living with a target on his back for the last 20 years. An organization in Iran has raised the bounty for anyone who can locate and kill Rushdie.
The problem started after Rushdie published the novel “Satanic Verses,” a book which is highly critical of Islam and its prophet Mohammed. Since then, he has been in hiding after Iran has issued a fatwa against him for blasphemy. A fatwa is a set of rules governing Islamic law. It is normally imposed by a cleric; under the fatwa in severe cases, a cleric can impose a death sentence on someone who commits the crime of blasphemy.
A cleric heading a conservative Islamic foundation has increased the bounty by another $500,000, bringing the total to $3.3 million. The organization released a statement saying that unless Rushdie is killed, there will be further releases of films and books insulting their holy prophet in ways that must be punished with death.
In 1998, Iran’s foreign ministry assured British authorities that it will not impose a fatwa on Rushdie. However, in 2005, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued a statement calling for the murder of Rushdie under Islamic law.
Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu made a public appearance on U.S. television and warned that Iran is only about half a year away from reaching 90 percent of what is needed in order to complete a nuclear warhead.
Netanyahu has been under sharp criticism all week both at home and abroad for his efforts to get the Obama administration to take a more aggressive stance against Iran. On American airwaves, he stressed that Obama needs to clearly lay out a “red line” that Iran must not cross in its nuclear enrichment activities, and that crossing those lines could result in military force.
Using an American football analogy, the prime minister said that Iran is only 20 yards away from reaching nuclear capability and that we must not let it cross the touchdown line because that would jeopardize the security of the world.
Iran continues to claim that its nuclear ambitions are only for peaceful purposes and warned that any form of military aggression will be met with swift retaliation. General Mohammed Ali Jafari, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in Iran, said in a conference that “nothing will remain” of Israel if it proceeds with an attack on its nation.
Netanyahu also appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and suggested that there is a correlation between Iran and the wave of violence spreading in the Middle East over an American-made Youtube video that insults the prophet Mohammed.
In a phone conversation between Obama and Netanyahu, Obama reportedly refused to set conditions for Iran. Netanyahu’s patience with the Obama administration is growing thin, and he continues to demand that the U.S. sets a clear red line that Iran must not cross without facing consequences.
A spokesperson for the White House, however, has insisted that the administration will do whatever is necessary to stop Iran from acquiring an atomic weapon.
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