Here, courtesy of the Arizona Daily Star, are some excerpts from the remarks of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at Columbia University today, when asked about gays and women.
MR. COATSWORTH: Let me just -- let me pursue this a bit further. It is difficult to have a scientific discussion if there isn't at least some basis -- some empirical basis, some agreement about what the facts are. So, calling for research into the facts when the facts are so well-established represents for many a challenging of the facts themselves and a denial that something terrible occurred in Europe in those years.And here, courtesy of a blog called "Hot Air," is a photo of two (non-existent?) gay Iranian teenagers moments before they were executed:
Let me move on to -- (pause).
Mr. President, another student asks, Iranian women are now denied basic human rights, and your government has imposed draconian punishments, including execution on Iranian citizens who are homosexuals. Why are you doing those things?
PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD: Those in Iran are genuine true freedoms. The Iranian people are free. Women in Iran enjoy the highest levels of freedoms. We have two deputy vice -- well, two vice presidents that are female at the highest levels of speciality; specialized (roles ?) in our parliament and our government and our universities, they are present in our biotechnological fields and our technological fields. There are hundreds of women scientists that are active in the political realm as well.
It's not -- it's wrong for some governments, when they disagree with another government, to sort of -- try to spread lies that distort the full truth. Our nation is free. It has the highest level of participation in elections. In Iran, 80 percent -- 90 percent of the people turn out for votes during the elections, half of which -- over half of which are women, so how can we say that women are not free? Is that the entire truth?
But as for the executions, I'd like to raise two questions. If someone comes and establishes a network for illicit drug trafficking that affects the (use ?) in Iran, Turkey, Europe, the United States by introducing these illicit drugs and destroys them, would you ever reward them? People who lead the lives -- cause the deterioration of the lives of hundreds of millions of youth around the world, including in Iran, can we have any sympathy to them? Don't you have capital punishment in the United States? You do, too. (Applause.)
In Iran, too, there's capital punishment for illicit drug traffickers, for people who violate the rights of people.
If somebody takes up a gun, goes into a house, kills a group of people there, and then tries to take ransom, how would you confront them in Iran with -- in the United States? Would you reward them? Can a physician allow microbes, symbolically speaking, to spread across a nation? We have laws. People who violate the public rights of the people by using guns, killing people, creating insecurity, sell drugs, distribute drugs at a high level are sentenced to execution in Iran, and some of these punishments -- very few are carried in the public eye, before the public eye. It's a law based on democratic principles. You use injections and microbes to kill these people, and they are executed or they're hung, but the end result is killing.
MR. COATSWORTH: (Off mike) -- and drug smugglers. The question was about sexual preference and women. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT AHMADINEJAD: In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country. (Laughter.) We don't have that in our country. (Booing.) In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you that we have it. (Laughter.)
But as for women, maybe you think that being a woman is a crime. It's not a crime to be a woman. Women are the best creatures created by God. They represent the kindness, the beauty that God instills in them. Women are respected in Iran. In Iran, every family who's given a girl is given -- in every Iranian family who has a girl, they're 10 times happier than having a son. Women are respected more than men are. They are exempt from many responsibilities. Many of the legal responsibilities rest on the shoulders of men in our society because of the respect culturally given to women, to the future mothers. In Iranian culture, men and sons and girls constantly kiss the hands of their mothers as a sign of respect, a respect for women, and we are proud of this culture.
Here is another image, taken moments later, found on another website:
Perhaps the Iranian president was mistranslated. Rather than saying "we don't have homosexuals," he actually said, "we are trying to eliminate homosexuals."
That would be so much closer to the truth.