Ahmadinejad's speech at U.N. prompts walkouts


Delegates walk out as Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Republic of Iran, addresses the General Debate of the 66th General Assembly session September 22, 2011 at the United Nations in New York. The United States on Thursday led a mass walkout of the UN General Assembly by western nations during a speech by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The Iranian leader strongly attacked the US role in wars and the financial crisis and called on major powers to pay reparations for slavery.


Don Emmert

In a speech at the United Nations on Thursday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered what The Guardian newspaper called a "stinging attack" on the United States and other major powers.

Ahmadinejad's speech prompted walkouts by several diplomatic delegations, according to The Guardian. U.S. diplomats left first, after Ahmadinejad said the "mysterious September 11 incident" was used as a pretext to attack Afghanistan and Iraq. Delegations from the United Kingdom and France were among those who left when Ahmadinejad said that if European countries were still paying a "fine or ransom to the Zionists" over of the Holocaust, they should pay reparations for slavery. The Israeli delegation did not attend the speech.

Ahmadinejad said the U.S. and its allies were singling out Iran.

"By using their imperialistic media network which is under the influence of colonialism, they threaten anyone who questions the Holocaust and the September 11 event with sanctions and military actions," he said.

CNN reports that Ahmadinejad also said that the U.S. had killed Osama bin Laden instead of assigning a fact-finding team to investigate "hidden elements involved in September 11."

After assailing the United States, Ahmadinejad said "the main question is the quest for the root cause of such attitudes. The prime reason should be sought in the beliefs and tendencies of the establishment. An assembly of people in contradiction with the inner human instincts and disposition who also have no faith in God and in the path of the divine prophets, replace their lust for power and materialistic ends with heavenly values. To them, only power and wealth prevail, and every attempt must bring into focus these sinister goals."

According to CNN, Ahmadinejad met Wednesday evening with 100 undergraduate and graduate students, accompanied by some professors. The event was moderated by an Iranian U.N. official, and questions addressed nuclear issues, the economy and Israel.

"[T]he tone remained positive," CNN reports. "Ahmadinejad joked and laughed at times."