Iranian Delegation Visiting European Parliament Stung by Questions Over Terror Links, Protest Crackdown
A delegation of Iranian parliamentarians led by a man accused of playing a key role in the crushing of recent nationwide anti-regime demonstrations received a frosty welcome at the European Parliament on Tuesday.
The delegation — led by Alaeddin Bouroujerdi, who chairs the Iranian parliament’s Committee on Foreign Policy and National Security — had been the subject of angry protests over the last two days, following an invitation from the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee to participate in talks on security and counter-terrorism policy.
Among those who protested the invitation was the Danish MEP Anders Primdahl Vistisen, who described Boroujerdi on Twitter as a “key figure of violent crackdown on peaceful protests” and criticized the decision to hold talks with the “biggest sponsor of terror in region & against its own people.”
The Iranian delegation is currently on a two-day visit to the European Parliament in Brussels. On Wednesday, the Iranians are scheduled to take part in a three-hour seminar focused on relations between the EU and the Tehran regime.
But when Bouroujerdi arrived at the parliament on Tuesday — for what was billed as an “Exchange of Views” with the “Chairman for the Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security of the Islamic Consultative Assembly of Iran” — he found himself on the end of disconcertingly direct questions from the German chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“I’m from Germany,” Christian-Democrat MEP David McAllister told the Iranians, going onto cite last week’s raids by German police on suspected Iranian terrorist operatives.
“The media reported that the suspects are accused of spying on possible Israeli and/or Jewish terror attack targets, including Jewish kindergartens,” McAllister said. “This would be highly disturbing,”
No denial by Iranian MP! He replies to the allegation of targeting Jewish sites in Germany by accusing the West of killing nuclear scientists working on illicit nuclear program years ago.
— Transatlantic Inst. (@AJCTAI) January 23, 2018
McAllister was warmly praised by Daniel Schwammenthal, director of the American Jewish Committee’s EU office, the AJC Transatlantic Institute.
“Mr. McAllister and several of his colleagues who also harshly criticized the regime — in particular on its threats to Israel, support for terrorism, and Holocaust denial — conveyed the crucial message to Tehran that the EU will not tolerate the regime’s nefarious and criminal behavior,” Schwammenthal said.
Jewish advocacy organizations were prominent among the groups and individuals who condemned the invitation to the Iranians. Bouroujerdi himself is a close ally of the Lebanese Shia terrorist group Hezbollah, as well as the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; at a meeting with the Syrian dictator in Damascus last October, Bouroujerdi declared that Iran and Syria would together “successfully thwart conspiracies masterminded by the US, the Zionists and their regional allies.”
In a letter to President of the European Parliamnt Antonio Tajani, Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt highlighted Bouroujerdi’s role in promoting the Iranian government’s policy of Holocaust denial.
“Just one day before you commemorate the victims of the Holocaust at the parliament, your institution will host a man who participated in a conference in Tehran in 2014 to promote Holocaust deniers,” Greenblatt wrote.
Greenblatt pointed out that Bouroujerdi had recently paid his respects at the Beirut grave of Imad Mughniyeh, a senior Hezbollah commander who died in 2008. “At Mughniyeh’s grave, Mr. Boroujerdi praised ‘the lives of these fighters and Mujahideen and heroes,'” Greenblatt said.
He continued: “Mughniyeh was implicated in the 1983 bombing of the US embassy in Beirut, the bombings in Buenos Aires of the Israeli embassy in 1992 and the AMIA Jewish community center in 1994, and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia.”
In a separate letter to Tajani, Shimon Samuels – international relations director for the Simon Wiesenthal Center – said that the invitation to the Iranians sent “a horrific message to all Iranian exiles, political prisoners in Iran, Jews and peace-lovers everywhere.”