Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, faced an unprecedented outburst of public opposition yesterday from student demonstrators who burned his picture and chanted “Death to the dictator”.In the first sign of open dissent since he took office last year, dozens of activists shouted abuse and set off firecrackers as Mr Ahmadinejad addressed students at Tehran’s Amir Kabir university. They were voicing anger at what they say is an increasing repressiveness on Iran’s campuses under his government. A presidential aide said 50 to 60 students took part in the protest.The heckling prompted scuffles between the protesters and the president’s supporters, who chanted: “Ahmadi, Ahmadi, we support you.”

Mr Ahmadinejad, who was marking Iranian students’ day, answered the “dictator” taunts by saying: “Everyone knows the real dictator is America and its servants.” He added: “A few who claim there is a stifling climate are trying to stifle the majority by not letting them hear what is being said.”

As students set fire to his picture, he said: “Everyone should know that Ahmadinejad is prepared to be burned in the path of true freedom, independence and justice.”

Full article here. Meanwhile, the Iranian president issued another anti-Semitic rant yesterday, this time to a Holocaust “fact-finding” conference:

Iran attracted international condemnation yesterday for hosting a conference of Holocaust deniers which was described by Tony Blair as “shocking beyond belief”.

As the two-day conference in Tehran wound up by forming a “fact-finding” committee into the extermination of six million Jews by the Nazis, Mr Blair accused Iran of posing a “major strategic threat” to the Middle East.

Speaking at his monthly press conference, he said he had been so taken aback by the reports the Iran president had invited a leader of the Ku Klux Klan to the conference that he asked a No 10 aide to check on it, twice. “To go and invite the former head of the Ku Klux Klan to a conference in Tehran which disputes the millions of people who died in the Holocaust … what further evidence do you need that this regime is extreme?”

The White House also issued a strong condemnation yesterday, describing the conference as “an affront to the entire civilised world as well as to the traditional Iranian values of tolerance and respect”. Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, expressed outrage, saying: ‘Germany will never accept this.” The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, said on Monday that the gathering, attended by more than 60 people from 30 countries, was a “sick phenomenon”.

The Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad addressed the closing session, saying: “Just as the Soviet Union was wiped out and today does not exist, so will the Zionist regime soon be wiped out.”

Full piece here.

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