Iranian official’s Berlin appearance canceled


BERLIN (JTA) — For the second time this month, a program featuring a top Iranian diplomat in Berlin was canceled following negative publicity campaigns by human rights groups.

The German Atlantic Society, organizers of a conference on "the regional position of the Islamic Republic of Iran," told JTA it canceled the Feb. 24 event due to too many registrations and concerns about possible violent protests.

The conference was to feature Iran’s ambassador to Germany, Ali Reza Sheikh Attar, and  Omid Nouripour of the Green Party, and was to be held in the German Federal Press office.

"Critical questions are welcome, but not disturbances," said Johannes Lay, director of the German Atlantic Society.

An e-mail publicity campaign protesting the planned event was launched last week by the Coordinating Council of German NGOs Against Ant-Semitism and Honestly Concerned, a German-based, pro-Israel NGO.

Earlier this month, the Iranian Embassy in Germany canceled plans to mark 22 years since the Islamic revolution in an event at the Maritim Hotel on Feb. 9 following a negative publicity campaign.

Christian Zimmermann, director of the Berlin-based Office for Human Rights and Minority Affairs, had written an open letter to the Maritim Hotel referring to Iran’s violent suppression of dissidents and suggesting that by hosting the Iranians, the hotel would be supporting "denial of the Holocaust and threats against Israel’s existence."

Zimmerman also is the director of the Coordinating Council of NGOs Against Anti-Semitism, of which the Office for Human Rights is a member.

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