It will likely be Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's last speech in front of the United Nations, and UN organizers are terrified he's going to go out with a bang. Today and Wednesday, Iran's president will address officials at the 139-nation General Assembly for its annual gathering, and already, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned him to hold the incendiary rhetoric and keep it simple. In a meeting on Sunday between Ban and Ahmadinejad, "The secretary-general drew attention to the potentially harmful consequences of inflammatory rhetoric, counter-rhetoric and threats from various countries in the Middle East," Ban's office told Reuters this morning. Given the surge of anti-American protests in Muslim countries and Israeli threats of military action against Iran, it's easy to see why Ban wants to turn the temperature down on Ahmadinejad's global address. But given the Ahmadinejad's track record of inflammatory speeches, it's doubtful he won't ruffle some feathers. So who's he likely to offend most, and which subject areas will he speak to? We can only guess from past experiences and comments to reporters over the weekend:
Israel. When Ban issued his warning to Ahmadinejad, he was likely thinking of statements such as "the Zionists are a cancerous tumor," a provocative line Ahmadinejad hauled out last month during a state television broadcast. This weekend, The Washington Post's David Ignatius asked Ahmadinejad about that very rhetoric. "Israelis often read your words and come away thinking: This man hates our country, peace is impossible." In response, Ahmadinejad sort of talked past Ignatius, saying " We have no problems with any people. Wherever in the world there are innocent people with problems, we are on their side." As such, it's anyone's guess what kind of anti-Israel rhetoric might emerge.
Gays. Homosexuality is a subject fresh on his mind as evidenced by his conversation with CNN's Piers Morgan. This morning, the network previewed parts of his interview airing tonight. and on that topic, Ahmadinejad gave a very strange response that suggested that proper education could do away with homosexuality:
"I'm sorry. Let me ask you this. Do you believe that anyone is giving birth through homosexuality? Homosexuality ceases procreation. Who has said that if you like or believe in doing something ugly, and others do not accept your behavior, that they're denying your freedom?" he asked Morgan.
"Proper education must be given ... the education system must be revamped. The political system must be revamped. And these must be also reformed, revamped along the way. But if you, if a group recognizes an ugly behavior or ugly deed as legitimate, you must not expect other countries or other groups to give it the same recognition."
9/11. Ahmadinejad is a proud truther. At last year's General Assembly speech, he said the Twin Towers were not brought down by jetliners. "He said that the U.S. used the 9/11 attacks as a pretext for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the wars were in fact motivated by imperialism and a thirst for oil," reported CBS News.
Holocaust. Another staple of the Ahmadinejad speech is the Holocaust denial. Last year, he suggested that the U.S. media unfairly shames anyone who questions historical facts surrounding the Holocaust. "By using their imperialistic media network which is under the influence of colonialism they threaten anyone who questions the Holocaust," he said in front of the UN last year.
With only nine months left in his presidency, the speech should be quite the spectacle. Today, he'll be speaking during a meeting on "rule of law" and on Wednesday he'll deliver his formal speech.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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