Monday, September 24, 2007

Iran's Take on Ahmadinejad's Columbia U. Speech

As many media outlets covered the Iranian President's speech at Columbia University, so did the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA). This organization is Iran's official mouthpiece, funded by the Ministry of National Guidance, and had a somewhat different take on Ahmadinejad's visit. Here is the text of the IRNA article:

Despite entire US media objections, negative propagation and hue and cry in recent days over IRI President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's scheduled address at Colombia University, he gave his lecture and answered students questions here on Monday afternoon.

On second day of his entry in New York, and amid standing ovation of the audience that had attended the hall where the Iranian President was to give his lecture as of early hours of the day, Ahmadinejad said that Iran is not going to attack any country in the world.

Before President Ahamadinejad's address, Colombia University Chancellor in a brief address told the audience that they would have the chance to hear Iran's stands as the Iranian President would put them forth.

He said that the Iranians are a peace loving nation, they hate war, and all types of aggression.

Referring to the technological achievements of the Iranian nation in the course of recent years, the president considered them as a sign for the Iranians' resolute will for achieving sustainable development and rapid advancement.

The audience on repeated occasion applauded Ahmadinejad when he touched on international crises.

At the end of his address President Ahmadinejad answered the students' questions on such issues as Israel, Palestine, Iran's nuclear program, the status of women in Iran and a number of other matters.

It seems that the IRNA missed parts of the speech, and lied about other parts. First off, though Ahmadinejad did receive a polite applause when he began his speech, he certainly did not receive a standing ovation. In fact, Columbia U.'s president received much louder applause during his critical intro of the Iranian president. This may seem like a petty point, but it illustrates how skewed IRNA reporting is. It wants to project it's leader as taming the lion that is the American public.

Which brings me to the second point: There is absolutely no mention of the blistering introduction he received from Lee Bollinger. Almost all other media outlets, including a story from al Jazeera, highlighted such instant classics as "Mr President, you exhibit all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator." But I guess IRNA wasn't watching C-SPAN during the intro.

Third, IRNA is correct that Ahmadinejad took on many different topics from students. But I find it interesting that the news agency doesn't mention that the President took on homosexuality in Iran. It mentions Israel, Palestine, nuclear programs, and women, but not homosexuality. Maybe the topic wasn't covered because it isn't really that pertinent, as Ahmadinejad clearly stated that "
In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country." More likely the topic isn't mentioned because that statement prompted laughs and boos from the audience.

I think IRNA needs to pay more attention to its leader's speeches. Or at least watch more C-SPAN.