Vienna demonstrators protest Iran’s Khatami

Protesters in Vienna are demonstrating against an official state visit to Austria by the former president of Iran.

Mohammad Khatami was to present a lecture Tuesday morning at the University of Vienna on “justice and dialogue of cultures.”

The co-organizers of Wednesday’s scheduled demonstration, the  bipartisan Stop the Bomb coalition that has denounced recent Austrian oil and gas deals with Iran, also had organized an Oct. 25 rally to condemn Khatami ‘s meeting that day with Austrian President Heinz Fischer.

The group opposes Iran’s continued nuclear program and what it sees as Austria’s tolerance of human rights abuses in Iran.

Initiative World Ethos, headed by anti-Semitism expert Anton Pelinka, is co-sponsoring Wednesday’s rally.

The Oct. 25 demonstration was co-sponsored by the Democratic Party of Kurdistan Iran, a pro-democratic Kurdish opposition group seeking national rights for Kurds in Iran. The event, which drew some 100 participants, took place in front of Vienna’s Academy of Sciences.

Fischer and Austrian Minister of Science Johannes Hahn participated in weekend ceremonies with Khatami marking 35 years of dialogue between Iran and Austria.

Simone Dinah Hartmann, a spokeswoman for Stop the Bomb, said in a statement that Iran had pursued its secret nuclear program during Khatami’s presidency.

“The Iranian students’ movement has been massively repressed,” the statement went on to say. “Khatami defends capital punishment for homosexuality, and during his complete eight years in office continued Iran’s support of the Hezbollah in Lebanon, which strives to obliterate Israel.”

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