Remove Argentina official over Al-Quds participation, Wiesenthal Center urges

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — The Simon Wiesenthal Center called for the removal of an Argentinian government official for participating in an Al Quds Day ceremony.

The center wrote to the Argentinian minister of agriculture, Norberto Yauhar, seeking the ouster of acting Under Secretary of Family Agriculture Emilio Persico for attending the Aug. 2 ceremony at the At-Tawhid Mosque in Buenos Aires.

Among those present for the event were radical activist Luis D’Elia, nationalist Fernando Esteche, former Montoneros guerrilla leader Roberto Perdia and Sheik Abdul Karim Paz of Hezbollah. Paz came in for praise.

Mohsen Rabbani, the 1994 Iranian cultural attache in Buenos Aires implicated in the terrorist attack on the AMIA Jewish center, was absolved. Regarding Israel, calls were made “for that state to disappear.”

“Apparently, the speakers at Al Quds Day in Buenos Aires feel energized and empowered by the Argentina-Iran agreement, and now foment hate with impunity,” Sergio Widder, the Wiesenthal Center’s director for Latin America, told JTA.

The Argentinian government has not commented on the issue.

“The presence of an undersecretary of state at this hate fest could be construed as an official endorsement of its position by the Argentine authorities,” said Shimon Samuels, director for International Relations of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. “The government must promptly disassociate itself from this Al Quds Day event by publicly condemning it.”

The global Al-Quds Day was started by the late Iranian cleric Ayatollah Khomeini to press for the “liberation” of Al-Quds, the Arabic name for Jerusalem.

The foreign ministers of Argentina and Iran in January signed a  Memorandum of Understanding to jointly investigate the AMIA bombing over opposition from families of the victims, the United States and Israel.

The agreement was ratified by the ruling majority in Argentina’s national parliament in February. The Iranian parliament has not yet ratified the agreement.

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