Iranian universities, MPs denounce Columbia U. president

September 26, 2007

TEHRAN -- Columbia University President Lee Bollinger’s insult to Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad seriously lowered the status of the university, MP Kazem Jalali said here on Tuesday.

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a Majlis session, Jalali said Bollinger was goaded on by the Zionists and the U.S. neoconservatives.
Ahmadinejad delivered a speech on Monday at New York’s Columbia University.
The school’s president used disrespectful epithets in his introduction of the Iranian president.
Ahmadinejad responded by saying that Bollinger’s remarks were an insult to the intelligence of the audience, adding that that he had fallen under the influence of hostile elements in the U.S. press and political scene.
Jalali, who is also a university professor, praised Ahmadinejad’s decision to speak at the university, saying it proved that Iranians favor negotiation and interaction.
Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Alaeddin Borujerdi told reporters it was expected that some Zionists would protest against Ahmadinejad’s speech at Columbia, but the university president’s disrespectful words came as a surprise.
“The rhetoric he used was not becoming for an academic and a host,” he added.
MP Ali Abbaspur stated that the insult to the Iranian president was the result of the “arrogant nature” of the university’s officials.
Bollinger's introduction was “very harsh”, said Hamid Dabashi, a professor of Iranian studies at Columbia University.
“Inviting him and then turning around and alienating and insulting an entire nation, whose representative this man happens to be, is simply inappropriate,” the Associated Press quoted Dabashi as saying.
Meanwhile, the presidents of six leading Iranian universities wrote a letter to Bollinger, criticizing him for insulting the Iranian president.
“Your insult to the president of a country with a population of 72 million and 7000 years of civilization and culture in an academic milieu is shameful,” the letter said.
“Although it seems that you uttered those sentences, which were filled with hostile sentiments, under strong pressure from the media, what is regretful and surprising is the fact that the media’s owners and policymakers (were allowed to) determine the contents of the (introductory) speech of the president of a prestigious university.”
The Iranian university chancellors also asked the Columbia University president to answer ten questions.
Following are some of these questions:
Why did the U.S. orchestrate a coup against the nationalist government of Dr. Mohammad Mosaddeq in 1953?
Why did the U.S. support the bloodthirsty Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran, even though he was a man who used chemical weapons against his own people?
Why did the U.S. media put so much pressure on you to prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad from making a speech at Columbia University?
Why doesn’t the U.S. recognize the Hamas government, which was elected through a direct vote of the people, and why is it putting so much pressure on the Hamas government?
Why has the U.S. been unable to locate Osama bin Laden, despite all its sophisticated equipment?
What do you have to say about the longstanding friendship between the Bush family and the Bin Laden family and their cooperation in the oil industry?
What do you think about Bush’s efforts to undermine the 9/11 investigation?