Ahmadinejad ‘Persona non grata’ in NY, activists declare

Billboard erected in Times Square by United Against Nuclear Iran features Iranian leader’s face with the words, “He’s Not Welcome Here.”

Ahmadinejad crowd 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Ahmadinejad crowd 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
NEW YORK – With one week left until the UN General Assembly meetings in New York, preparations are underway to send President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a strong message that the world disapproves of Iran’s attempts to acquire nuclear weapons.
A billboard erected in Times Square by United Against Nuclear Iran features the Iranian leader’s face with the words, “He’s Not Welcome Here.” The billboard was deliberately placed at 48th Street and 7th Avenue, near the Millennium Hotel, where Ahmadinejad will be staying.
RELATED:Iran denies it is building secret nuclear facility Salehi: Iran has the right to bar UN nuclear inspectors
“President Ahmadinejad is not welcome in New York City and no venue should play host to this brutal regime,” UANI President Ambassador Mark Wallace said in a statement. “We condemn the shortsighted decision of the Millennium Hotel to put its own economic gain ahead of the strategic interests of the United States.”
“International corporations have shunned the Iranian regime by ending their business in Iran, yet the Millennium has rolled out the red carpet to legitimize a leader who has called the attacks of September 11, 2001, a ‘big lie,’” Wallace said.
Other hotels, including Essex House and The Helmsley Hotel, refused to host the Iranian leader and his entourage.
Another group, Iran180, was formed “to demand a 180 by the Iranian government on their pursuit of nuclear weapons and the treatment of their citizens.” The group includes the New York division of the Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York and UJA-Federation New York.
Iran180 is sponsoring an effort to have concerned citizens sign a petition in favor of human rights, religious freedom and freedom of expression for Iranian citizens. The petition will be read in front of the UN on September 23, when other groups, including the Union for the Advancement of Secular Democracy in Iran, will hold a protest.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has started a campaign, appealing to UN ambassadors to walk out of the UN General Assembly if Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addresses the international body.
Taking the idea a step further, the Unity Conference of Iranian Opposition for a Democratic Iran has sent a letter requesting the Credential Committee of the General Assembly to reject the credentials of the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and to prevent them from occupying the seat of Iran at the UN.