Jewish organizations on Thursday urged UNESCO to cancel its endorsement of the World Philosophy Day scheduled to take place in the Iranian capital Tehran later this month.
Since 2002, UNESCO has marked World Philosophy Day with an event that brings together noted philosophers from throughout the world.
"The cruel and sadistic methods employed by the [Iranian] government to quell dissent demand that this regime be ostracized by the international community. To hold the World Philosophy Day in Tehran only frustrates these worthy efforts," wrote American Jewish Committee President Robert Elman and Executive Director David Harris in a letter to UNESCO chief Irina Bokova.
Elman and Harris wrote that the event, scheduled for November 21-23, would "serve to bolster the propaganda messaging of [Iranian] President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, who has already announced that, among the participants, will be Mohammad-Javad Larijani, a proponent of execution by stoning. Larijani will be joined by Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, who once referred to the Jewish people as 'the most corrupt race in the world.'"
The AJC letter alleged that the Iranian government has ensured the stifling of dissenting views by barring the participation of moderate philosophers.
The Anti-Defamation League also issued a statement condemning the planned event.
"Iran’s long record of suppressing free speech and the rights of certain religious minorities, censoring the media, and inhibiting the free teaching of social sciences and the humanities should not be given legitimacy by UNESCO," said Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "To do so would seriously undermine the integrity and credibility of the international community’s leading organization promoting media and educational freedom."
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