Jewish organizations called on UNESCO on Thursday to remove its endorsement from the World Philosophy Day planned to take place in Iran later in November.
A delegation of Anti-Defamation League leaders on a mission to Europe this week raised the issue with high-level government officials in France and Italy.
UNESCO has sponsored World Philosophy Day, which brings together leading philosophers from around the world for a day of debate, since 2002.
“Iran’s long record of suppressing free speech and the rights of certain religious minorities, censoring the media, and inhibiting the free teaching of social sciences and the humanities should not be given legitimacy by UNESCO,” said Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “To do so would seriously undermine the integrity and credibility of the international community’s leading organization promoting media and educational freedom.”
The ADL suggested that a parallel event sponsored by UNESCO could take place in Paris as an alternative to the Teheran conference.
American Jewish Committee President Robert Elman and Executive Director
David Harris sent an open letter to Irina Bokova, director-general of
UNESCO, saying: "The cruel and sadistic methods employed by the
government to quell dissent demand that this regime be ostracized by the
international community. To hold the World Philosophy Day in Tehran
only frustrates these worthy efforts."
"Tragically, UNESCO's World Philosophy Day Conference in Tehran will
serve to bolster the propaganda messaging of President Ahmadinejad, who
has already announced that, among the participants, will be
Mohammad-Javad Larijani, a proponent of execution by stoning," Elman and
Harris wrote. "Larijani will be joined by Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, who
once referred to the Jewish people as 'the most corrupt race in the
"By contrast, the government has ensured that any opposing views will be
stifled, having barred the participation of moderate and learned
philosophers. In a tragic and ironic twist, just last week, Iran
implemented a new round of restrictions on the study of 12 key human
social sciences, among them, philosophy and human rights," Harris and
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