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AJC Urges UNESCO Relocation of World Philosophy Day Events From Iran

November 3, 2010

NEW YORK, Nov. 3, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — AJC has urged UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova to relocate events for World Philosophy Day scheduled for the Iranian capital, Tehran, on November 21-23.

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“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,” wrote AJC President Robert Elman and Executive Director David Harris in a letter to Bokova.

“[T]ragically, 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. Larijani will be joined by Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, who once referred to the Jewish people as ‘the most corrupt race in the world.’ 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 Elman continued.

The full text of the letter follows:

November 2, 2010

The Honorable Irina Bokova

Director-General of UNESCO

UNESCO Headquarters

1, Rue Miollis

75732 Paris Cedex 15

France

Dear Director-General Bokova,

We write to express our concern regarding the UNESCO World Philosophy Day scheduled to take place in Tehran on November 21-23. As an organization that was a strong supporter of the U.S. returning to UNESCO and advocates for U.S. presence in the organization, we are deeply troubled by the prospect of this conference. While we note that the main event has been relocated to Paris, we respectfully urge you to move the rest of the program away from Tehran.

UNESCO’s stated mission is to “contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information.” Sadly, the current regime in Iran works day and night to thwart the very principles espoused in this noble statement.

Moreover, the abysmal human rights situation in Iran has been well-documented and condemned by an array of respected international bodies. 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.

Indeed, 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. Larijani will be joined by Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, who once referred to the Jewish people as “the most corrupt race in the world.” 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.

In essence, to hold any part of the World Philosophy Day Conference in Tehran would be to contravene the core values of UNESCO. That is something none of us should desire.

Respectfully,

David Harris

Robert Elman

SOURCE American Jewish Committee


Source: newswire



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