Wednesday, October 18

Iranian dignitary speaks at UCLA (ONLINE EXTRA!)


Many protest presence of speaker, upset at university for providing forum

By Marjorie Hernandez and Timothy
Kudo


Daily Bruin Senior Staff

The foreign minister of Iran spoke Thursday at the James West
Alumni Center while about 250 protesters gathered outside to
vehemently express their dissatisfaction.

Minister Kamal Kharrazi spoke to about 40 invited faculty and
students, discussing human rights, normalizing relations with the
United States, as well as the construction of an oil pipeline
through Iran to the seaports on the Persian Gulf.

Kharrazi is the highest ranking Iranian dignitary allowed to
travel freely in the U.S.

“Iran is the shortest, the safest, and the most economic
way to transfer oil,” Kharrazi said, noting the effect it
could have on countries formerly part of the Soviet Union.

He also gave a nod to the recent United Nations meeting in New
York as an example of constructive diplomacy.

“The dialogue and roundtable should become the paradigm in
international relations,” Kharrazi said.

Outside, the group of protesters at times threw eggs at people,
and pushed and shoved those attending the lecture.

“I thought that the U.S. stands for human rights,”
said Mohammad Parvin, a professor at California State University at
Los Angeles.

“The fact that UCLA is doing this is wrong, it shows a
lack of humanity,” he continued.

Parvin fled Iran after a warrant was issued for his arrest
because he spoke out against the government as a professor
there.

Earlier this summer, student protests in Iran were violently
suppressed by the government. Many at the protest said UCLA’s
hosting of the Iranian dignitary was more insulting as a result of
that.

UCLA administrators defended the decision.

“I feel very strongly in the university’s role in
providing a forum, an exchange of voices on issues of concern to us
all,” said Chancellor Albert Carnesale.

But the question and answer session that followed
Kharrazi’s speech held few if any critical questions for the
minister, something the chancellor acknowledged.

“It was a security consideration,” Carnesale said.
“The state department has a responsibility for his well-being
and to protect him from, the term is, embarrassment.”

The LAPD, university police, state police and the California
Highway Patrol ““ some clad in riot gear ““ provided
security for the event, surrounding a large perimeter around the
alumni center.

One person was detained but no charges were filed.

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