NEW YORK (1010 WINS/WCBS 880/CBS 2/AP) – A group of New York elected officials spoke out Monday against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly.
The gathering led by the human rights group Iran 180 featured activists and New York politicians protesting Ahmadinejad’s appearance at the U.N. and alleged human rights abuses in Iran.
“If the United Nations does not stand up to Ahmadinejad, what are they even here for,” Congressman Anthony Weiner said.
Queens Congressman Joseph Crowley joined the human rights coalition in speaking out against Ahmadinejad’s planned speech Tuesday.
“Crime scene tape should be really around the United Nations,” Crowley said.
1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported that Iranian activist Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi said her country’s problems were not just internal.
“This regime has clearly stated and has every intention of exporting the violence it perpetrates against the people it claims to govern,” Zand-Bonazzi said.
Zand-Bonazzi also called upon people around the world to stand behind Iranians fighting to free the country from “the clutches of an unelected and despotic regime.”
Iran’s alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons was also addressed at the press conference.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler said he has no faith in the Iranian regime’s nuclear claims
“We cannot trust deterrence with Iran,” Nadler said.
“He’s hated. The people don’t want him here. He’s not welcome here,” Iranian dissident Forough Shahriary told CBS 2′s John Metaxas.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Gov. David Paterson were also among those protesting Ahmadinejad’s regime at a news conference near the U.N. on Monday.
Paterson said the group knows Ahmadinejad won’t listen to their pleas. But he said it’s important to speak out against world leaders he calls “divisive.”
Protesters demonstrated Sunday as Ahmadinejad arrived, and another rally is planned for Thursday.
With First Avenue in front of the U.N. totally closed, traffic crawled on nearby avenues. Security was ever present as black SUVs with armed officers inside rushed to their destinations. Sirens blared as both NYPD and federal agents worked to ensure the safety of 191 different visiting delegations, Metaxas reported.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said in this General Assembly, the world will see the largest number of heads of state to ever gather at one time in New York City, WCBS 880′s Rich Lamb reported.
“There’s 191 security details. That means there’s a 191 people here, dignitaries if you will, who have their own security element with them,” Kelly said.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)