Jewish group calls for ban on Ahmadinejad visit
6 June 2006, WASHINGTON - A prominent US-based Jewish human rights organization on Monday urged the German government to make Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "unwelcome" at the World Cup.
6 June 2006
WASHINGTON - A prominent US-based Jewish human rights organization on Monday urged the German government to make Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "unwelcome" at the World Cup.
Ahmadinejad has sparked international outrage since he took office last year by trivializing the Holocaust and saying that Israel should be "wiped off the map." Iran is among 32 countries competing in football's World Cup, which opens Friday in Germany.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Los Angeles, said that keeping Ahmadinejad from attending would be "the right thing to do."
"Such a visit by a head of state who denies the Holocaust and has called for the obliteration of the state of Israel ... desecrates the memory of the millions who were murdered in the gas chambers and contradicts everything that the post-war Federal Republic of Germany has stood for," Hier told Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
Hier said he faxed a letter conveying his message to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has condemned Ahmadinejad's anti-Jewish remarks but has not taken a public position on whether he should attend the World Cup.
Ahmadinejad has said that he would fly to Germany if the Iranian team advances past group play into the second round. Iran faces Mexico, Angola and Portugal in Group D.
The German Foreign Ministry has said that the issue will be addressed once there is a better understanding of Ahmadinejad's plans.
The German government cannot refuse Ahmadinejad entry into the country because as a head of state he doesn't need a visa, but could convey a preference that he not come.
Merkel's government has "a moral obligation to state unequivocally and publicly that his visit would be unwelcome," Hier said, adding that a visit by Ahmadinejad would be seen as bestowing him an honour.
"If President Ahmadinejad pays no penalty for his anti-Semitism, Holocaust denial and genocidal threats again the state of Israel, then we legitimize his message by allowing him to sit in the VIP section of the World Cup before a viewing audience of billions," Hier says in his letter.
Subject: German news