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The UN hard at work, helping A-jad dodge difficult questions

By See-Dubya  •  June 17, 2008 04:12 PM

Radio Farda is the branch of Voice of America that broadcasts in Farsi to Iran, and their reporter Ahmad Rafat had a neat idea for a question to ask Ahmedinejad:

“My question was: If Iran is the second-largest oil producer in the world after Saudi Arabia, and the second-largest gas producer after Russia, and has more than $40 billion in reserves, why does such a rich country have 7 million people living under the poverty line of less than $1 a day?” Rafat says.

Rafat says that Ahmadinejad has responded in the past in Iran with answers suggesting that “the economy is managed by the 12th imam,” a religious leader whose return devout Shi’a await to usher in a golden age, or by challenging conventional wisdom by asking, “Who says inflation is a bad thing?”

“I don’t think he could have given such an answer in front of an international audience of journalists, because everyone would have started laughing,” Rafat says. “But I do wonder what he would have said.”

So on June 3rd, in Rome, Rafat showed up at Ahmedinejad’s press conference sponsored by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization to ask him that question. But the UN had other plans:

Rafat says the trouble began when he arrived at the FAO building to begin a day of summit coverage that was to include attendance at Ahmadinejad’s press conference. He showed his official press accreditation for the summit, submitted his bags for inspection, and walked through the metal detector.

“On the other side, there was a gentleman from the Italian police who was looking at a piece of paper in his hand and looking at me. He told me, ‘You cannot enter,'” Rafat says. “I asked why, and he said the FAO did not want it. Then, after checking my ID, he said, ‘I must ask you to leave the building.'”

When Rafat protested, Italian police explained that the UN building has extraterritorial status and, although they provide security, all decisions over who comes and goes are entirely the FAO’s to make.

Rafat, who is also deputy director of the biggest private news agency in Italy, Adnkronos, immediately alerted the media. He said he was shocked at his exclusion….

“Some 60 politicians released communiques supporting me and condemning the decision of FAO,” Rafat says. “After that came statements from the Italian association of the press, the Foreign Press Club in Rome, the trade union of Italian journalists, and the International Federation of Journalists in Brussels.”

Rafat thinks the UN singled him out because he had been the covering the Italian protests of Ahmedinejad’s visit, the existence of which is news to me. If the FAO hadn’t thrown Rafat out of that press conference, I might not have heard about them at all.

As for the UN, they’re still running interference for tyrants. No news there.

By the way, keep your eye out for Oil-for-Food news. The program’s over, but it’s still quite relevant.


{Post by See-Dubya}

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