Sunday, June 14, 2009
Ahmadinejad Discounts Protests, Detention Of Main Opponent
With a straight face, Iranian Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad discounted the election protests in his nation by comparing those who have taken to the streets to soccer fans disappointed that their team has lost a game. And he downplayed concerns about the well being of opposition leaders, including his main rival in the disputed election, by saying that the missing Hossein Mousavi, who has not been seen in public since the balloting, was simply fined for violating traffic laws.
He also denied that opposition newspapers have been shutdown. "There are hundreds of dailies (newspapers) published," he said. Foreign reporters "should not be worried" about a few papers that closed a few days.
He also admonished western journalists for their reporting of the election and its after math, claiming that they are trying to mislead the world. Ahmadinejad claimed that the foreign reporters are only seeing and reporting what they want, and admonished them for their "mistakes" in coverage.
"Freedom here," he asserted with a straight face, "is close to absolute."
His comments came during a wide-ranging hour-and-a-half news conference at which he was treated with absolute deference by Iranian journalists who asked questions preambled with statements supporting Ahmadinejad's propaganda line. But who was challenged by western journalists who come from a tradition of critical reporting.
One British reporter emotionally questioned the public execution of a girl. Ahmadinejad''s response was nothing less than astounding.
"We oppose execution of human beings," he said. "We oppose the killing of an ant. We also become upset when an execution is committed."
But he claimed that the Iranian judiciary is independent. So the way to stop these executions, he asserted, is that people stop committing crimes.
Ahmadinejad also brushed off concerns that the United States or Israel might attack Iran, presumably over its nuclear program.
"The Iranian nation is a powerful nation," he said, that "will make the aggressive remorseful."