Despite ongoing protests, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will once again address the UN General Assembly in New York on Thursday. Although his speech will reportedly focus on global management and United Nations reform, the world is gearing up for Ahmadinejad's usual display of controversial remarks and heated words towards the United States and its allies.
Leading up to today's speech, Ahmadinejad provided a preview by calling Iran a "new model for life to the world" and then telling ABC News that Israel was a “fake regime” whose “oppressive preconditions” to peace talks would fail.
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof sat down with Ahmadinejad in an interview on Wednesday, where the leader took aim against President Obama:
We have a lot of freedoms in Iran. I do not believe that you can gain this easy of an access and speak so easily, so at ease, with the president of the United States but you can do that with the Iranian president. This is one of the one of the differences between our two countries.
New Yorkers are all too familiar with Ahmadinejad's fiery words. In 2007, Columbia University ignited much controversy by inviting the Iranian president to speak to students as a part of the annual World Leaders Forum. City Council speaker Christine C. Quinn warned that Ahmadinejad would only "spew more hatred and more venom out there to the world."
Despite exhortations against the invitation, the university went forward with the event. There, Ahmadinejad urged the world to treat the Holocaust as "theory" and not fact, denied the existence of homosexuals in Iran, and when university president Lee Bollinger said he exhibited the qualities of a "cruel dictator," Ahmadinejad reportedly sat with a "Cheshire Cat smile."
In 2010's UN General Assembly, Ahmadinejad caused diplomats to walk out of the assembly by suggesting the September 11th attacks were an inside job and that other nations believed this as well.
This year, a group called the United Against Nuclear Iran, is holding protests against Ahmadinejad's visit with mobile billboards driving around the Warwick Hotel where Ahmadinejad is staying.
UANI's executive director, David Ibsen, explained the group's actions and said that Ahmadinejad was not welcome in New York and that his Manhattan visit is offensive.