Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may soon break bread with members of the Columbia International Relations Council and Association.
According to an email from the club’s listserv, members are invited to a private, Sept. 21 dinner in Midtown with the man whom University President Lee Bollinger introduced as “a petty and cruel dictator” when he spoke on campus in 2007.
A version of this article that appeared online over the weekend stated that CIRCA vice president of academics, Tim Chan, CC ’14, said someone in the group has a close relationship with the Iranian ambassador. After the article was published online Chan told Spectator he was mistaken and that there is no one in group with a close relationship to the ambassador. He also emphasized that the meeting with Ahmadinejad is still tentative.
Members of the group were informed over the summer that they might have the opportunity to bring 15 students to dinner with the head of state, whose views on Israel, human rights, and homosexuality have drawn sharp criticism.
Chan said that so far he hasn’t heard any concerns from members of the group.
“Everyone was really enthusiastic,” Chan said. “They’re thrilled to have this opportunity.”
A firestorm of media attention erupted when Ahmadinejad’s invitation to campus was announced in 2007. For a week, the campus was embroiled in debate over academic freedom and Iranian politics. Despite outside criticism and threats from alumni to withdraw funding, Bollinger refused to cancel the event. Students filled College Walk and Low Plaza to listen to Ahmadinejad’s speech and protest his notoriously dictatorial hold over Iran.
Ahmadinejad and his delegation of Iranian diplomats will be in town this month to attend the annual United Nations General Assembly.