Iranian leader to deliver alternative Christmas message

December 25th, 2008 - 4:13 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Dec 25 (IANS) Protests from Jewish groups and human rights groups have greeted a decision by a leading British television channel to broadcast an alternative Christmas Day broadcast Thursday - to be delivered by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran.The traditional Christmas message in Britain is delivered by the Queen - a 10-minute wrapup of the year that has become as traditional as roast turkey. Queen Elizabeth II delivers it in a calm and matronly fashion every year at 3 p.m. and the message is broadcast around the world by television and radio.

Channel 4’s decision to broadcast a message by Ahmadinejad, going out at 7.15 p.m. local time, was criticised by Jewish and human rights groups who say he is anti-Semitic and anti-gay.

He has also been targeted by the US and other Western governments - with threats of invasion - for what they say is an attempt by Iran to build up a nuclear weapons arsenal.

While the Queen steers clear of politics in her annual messages, the Iranian leader in his speech claims that if Jesus Christ were alive today, he would oppose US hegemony.

“If Christ was on Earth today undoubtedly he would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers,” he says.

“If Christ was on Earth today undoubtedly he would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over. If Christ was on Earth today undoubtedly he would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime.”

Holocaust Centre director Stephen Smith said many of Ahmadinejad’s “political and historical views are very dangerous and do not uphold the views in his message. I think this benign message is deception. People need to be alert to the fact that this is a wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

British Jewish leader Henry Grunwald added: “The appearance on our television screens of a man whose prejudices are so well-documented and who has openly called for the eradication of another member country of the United Nations is an affront to decency.”

Channel 4 defended the choice, saying: “As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad’s views are enormously influential. As we approach a critical time in international relations, we are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view.”

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