An Iranian diplomat has been accused of fuelling radicalism with a fiery, anti-Israel speech at an Auckland mosque.
Jewish community leaders want Hormoz Ghahremani, first secretary of the Iranian Embassy, to be expelled after he appeared alongside speakers who denied the Holocaust and called for the “surgical removal” of Israel.
In his speech, Ghahremani said Israel was trying to “deceive the world” by pretending to be an advocate of peace when in fact it was fuelling terrorism and extremism in the Middle East to divert attention from the Palestine issue.
Muslim nations needed to unite against “the anti-human regime of Israel and discern their common enemy with profound insight”, he said.
At the same event a visiting Iranian cleric, Hojatoleslam Shafie, said Israel “hides behind a fake phenomenon” of the Holocaust and that it was a conspiracy to infiltrate Islamic countries.
He said Quds Day was established “to deal a powerful punch to the mouth of the cancerous tumour known as evil Israel,” and cited Imam Khomeini as saying that “if every Muslim were to spit in the face of Israel, Israel would drown”.
The annihilation of the “Zionist regime” had begun, he said, and Israel would not last for another 25 years.
Community elder Sayed Taghi Derhami, a Mt Albert accountant, told attendees at the event that Israel was a “cancerous gland” that had to be “surgically removed”.
A video of the speeches has been posted on the YouTube channel of the Islamic Ahlulbayt Foundation, which hosted the event at its centre in the east Auckland suburb of Pakuranga.
Members of the Jewish community say it’s outrageous that the representative of a foreign Government should make such comments. The speech was in June but has only just come to light.
The speeches no longer appear on the Islamic Ahlulbayt Foundation YouTube channel. Good thing I downloaded them.
Here are the “highlights”:
When confronted with the speeches, Ghahremani did not seem to regret making his – just that it was uploaded to YouTube.
Ghahremani told Stuff he agreed the speech could be seen as inflammatory, but it had to be taken in the context of the event at which it was given. He spoke at a gathering to mark the annual Quds Day, initiated by Iran in the 1970s to support Palestinians and oppose Zionism.
Contacted at the Iranian Embassy in Wellington, Ghahremani said his speech was supposed to be private and he was upset it had been put on the internet. “It was something private, a small gathering. I was there to reflect the position of the Iranian Government.
Asked if such inflammatory speeches could fuel radicalism in the Muslim community, Ghahremani said: “If it’s spoken in public places yeah, you’re right. But it was a small, private gathering that happens once a year. This year they make a mistake to shoot a film, to put it on YouTube.”
And in other news, he stated the official position of Iran is that they are not against our existence.
“We do not recognise the Israeli Government, that’s not a secret. But we are not against their existence.”
I think that is the first time I have heard an Iranian official mention “Israel”, let alone state they are not against our existence. I only wish that was uploaded to YouTube.
Not that I believe him.