Friday, April 28, 2006

Rights Group Backs Ahmadinejad World Cup Ban

Luke Harding, The Guardian:
The Simon Wiesenthal centre yesterday called on Germany to ban the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, from attending the World Cup, describing his possible presence at the tournament as "mind-boggling".

The Jewish human rights organisation said it had written to Sepp Blatter, the president of Fifa, football's ruling body, urging him to bar Mr Ahmadinejad from the tournament, which begins in June. Allowing him in would be tantamount to endorsing the 1936 Olympic games hosted by Hitler, the centre said.

"President Ahmadinejad has forfeited his right to attend the World Cup. He has endorsed genocide against Israel, vilified the Jewish people, and labelled the Nazi Holocaust and the murder of six million innocent men, women and children a myth," Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, two rabbis at the centre based in New York and Jerusalem, said. READ MORE

Jewish leaders in Germany have already called for Mr Ahmadinejad to be banned following comments last year in which he called for Israel to be "wiped off the map". Under German law he could be arrested for Holocaust denial.

It is not clear whether Mr Ahmadinejad, a keen football fan, wants to visit Germany. But Iranian football officials have said it is "entirely possible" that their president could turn up.

Iran plays its first match against Mexico on June 11. Fifa has resisted calls to ban Iran or its president, insisting that there is a strict distinction between politics and sport.