WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond: Hundreds Rallied Against Him Outside
Ahmadinejad launched a wide-ranging attack on the United States, suggesting in his remarks that our nation used the 9/11 attacks as a pretext for invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq. He also suggested the United States was responsible for the global recession, and triggered world wars.
“Can the flower of Democracy blossom from NATO’s missiles, bombs and guns?” Ahmadinejad said.
During his remarks, representatives of the United States and a number of western nations walked out.
Ahmadinejad continued unabated. “They have no respect for others and violate the rights of all nations and governments,” Ahmadinejad said. “They officially support racism. They weaken countries through military intervention… they sow the seeds of hate and hostility among other nations… in order to prevent them from making progress.”
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“They threaten anyone who questions the Holocaust,” Ahmadinejad said.
He also questioned the killing of Osama bin Laden. “Why should it not have been allowed to bring him into trial?”
Former Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge and former U.N. ambassador John Bolton joined thousands of protestors Thursday morning as they rallied outside the U.N. to demand it oust the Iranian president.
“As the world’s largest terror state, they are responsible for the deaths of soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq,” said Ridge. “They support Hamas, Hezbollah, the Palestinian-Islamic jihad. The answer, are they a friend of the U.S? Absolutely not.”
“I think we should have been seeking regime change in Iran for a long time,” Bolton told CBS 2′s Marcia Kramer. “The people overwhelmingly reject this regime and that would be clear if there were ever free and fair elections.”
Protesters pointed out that since the U.N. gave Libya’s seat to the anti-Qaddafi rebels, it’s time to expel the Iranian regime. They want the U.N. to give Iran’s seat to the Iranian resistance for democracy.
As Ahmadinejad prepared to take the podium, security has been tight at Manhattan’s Warwick Hotel, where he has been staying.
Last year, the Iranian president held a news conference there and had 30 police officers and two firefighters assigned to him full-time.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city spends the money because of the U.N.’s importance to our economy.
“It doesn’t mean you endorse it. It doesn’t mean you like it,” Bloomberg said. “You’d prefer something else but the truth of the matter is, if you want the United Nations — and we really do this is a very big part of our economy. You just can’t say no.”
The group United Against Nuclear Iran has also been protesting outside of the Warwick, demanding the hotel “reconsider its decision to host Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his cohorts during their stay,” according to the group’s website.
Protestors have been peddling around the Warwick and the U.N. with “bicycle billboards” condemning Iran, its leader and the hotel.
Thursday afternoon, the group plans to continue its protest outside the hotel with an Ahmadinejad impersonator and street performances.
As many as 15 members of the Columbia International Relations Council and Association were originally invited and hundreds of students were expected to turn out to condemn the meeting.
Despite the dinner’s cancellation, a couple dozen students still gathered on Columbia’s campus to protest Ahmadinejad’s human rights record.
Meanwhile, as Ahmadinejad was arriving in New York Wednesday, Iran released two American hikers who have been held for two years on suspicion of spying.
On Thursday, Bauer’s brother-in-law Nate Lindstrom spoke with CBS’s “The Early Show” and said that his wife, Nicole, hadn’t spoken to her brother in two years.
Lindstrom says his wife spoke to him from Oman on Thursday morning via Skype. He says there was no talk of when Bauer, Fattal and their families would return to the U.S., adding “everybody is just kind of living in the moment right now.”
He says “everybody is really happy to be together.”
(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)