Anti-Ahmadinejad demo ahead of Iran match
21 June 2006, LEIPZIG, GERMANY - About 250 people demonstrated against Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Leipzig on Wednesday, just hours before the kickoff of the Iran-Angola World Cup match.
21 June 2006
LEIPZIG, GERMANY - About 250 people demonstrated against Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Leipzig on Wednesday, just hours before the kickoff of the Iran-Angola World Cup match.
The rally in the downtown area, far from the city stadium, was organized by Jewish and anti-Nazi groups and attended by the mayor of Leipzig, Burkhard Jung. He said Iran's footballers were welcome in the city, but anti-Semitic speeches by its president were not.
Security was tight and there were no clashes. Police said a small group of apparently far-right youths had tried to provoke the gathering by waving an Iranian flag, but were moved on without violence or arrests.
Ahmadinejad, whose demands that Israel be eliminated along with public doubts about the Holocaust have angered Germany, has not visited Germany, but Iranian deputy foreign minister Hamidreza Asefi was present, officials of the state of Saxony said.
Vice President Mohammed Aliabadi had been expected, but did not attend the Leipzig match.
Speakers at the demonstration, held on a square outside the federal administrative-law tribunal, said Ahmadinejad should be barred from the country if he tried to visit.
Reinhard Buetikofer, co-leader of the German Greens party, told the crowd it was "the fruit of such demonstrations that the Iranian president has not come to Germany."
"We'll stand up to this regime, but reach out our hands to the people of Iran," he said.
Demonstrators had gathered to wave Israeli flags at Iran's two earlier games at the World Cup after neo-Nazis said that they planned to demonstrate support for Ahmadinejad, but there were no clashes.
Rightist groups did not seek permission to parade at the Leipzig game.
Out-numbering the neo-Nazis at such events is a regular response from groups that oppose neo-Nazis.
Subject: German news