Thursday, April 23, 2009

RACISM CONFERENCE GROUPS EXPELLED

A demonstrator gestures during a speech by President Mahmoud Ahmedinjad in Geneva, 20 April 2009
Protesters wearing wigs disrupted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech

The UN has expelled three groups from an anti-racism conference in connection with a speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The groups - two Jewish and one Iranian - had been expelled for "unacceptable behaviour", a spokesman said.

Mr Ahmedinejad's speech, in which he called Israel a racist regime, overshadowed the five-day conference.

As he was delivering it, a pair of protesters dressed in wigs threw red noses at him while others shouted.

The speech also prompted EU delegates to walk out of the conference.

The groups banned from the event are the French Union of Jewish Students (UEJF), Coexist - a non-governmental organisation affiliated to UEJF - and the Iranian Neda Institute for Political and Scientific Research, UN spokesman Rupert Colville said.

The head of the UEJF, Raphael Haddad, was one of the two people who staged a protest in rainbow-coloured wigs amid shouts of "racist" and "shame", AFP news agency reported.

He and his fellow protester were removed from the conference hall by security guards.

There was cheering and applause from others in the hall.

The Neda Institute had distributed inflammatory material to conference participants, Mr Colville said.

Mr Ahmadinejad spoke on Monday at the start of the five-day conference, which is being held in Geneva.

He said that after World War II Western nations had made Palestinians homeless "by exploiting the Holocaust and under the pretext of protecting the Jews".

Jewish migrants, he said, had been sent from Europe and the US after World War II "in order to establish a totally racist government in the occupied Palestine".

The UN subsequently said that Mr Ahmadinejad had dropped language from his speech describing the Holocaust as "ambiguous and dubious".

The speech attracted widespread criticism, including from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Iran said the criticism was "one-sided".

The US, Israel and other states had boycotted the conference over the presence of Mr Ahmadinejad, who had previously denied the Holocaust.

On Tuesday, conference delegates including Iran adopted a resolution against racism that included a statement that "the Holocaust must never be forgotten".

BBC NEWS REPORT.

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