The British Government slammed a television channel that aired an address by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Christmas.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that handing a platform to Ahmadinejad, who has called the Holocaust “a myth,” would cause widespread offense, despite the president’s conciliatory tone, according to the London Times.
“President Ahmadinejad has, during his time in office, made a series of appalling anti-Semitic statements. The British media are rightly free to make their own editorial choices, but this invitation will cause offense and bemusement not just at home but amongst friendly countries abroad,” a spokeswoman for the FCO said.
In the address, a Channel 4 tradition since 1993, Ahmadinejad made a thinly veiled attack on the United States by claiming that Christ would have been against “bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers.”
“If Christ were on Earth today, undoubtedly He would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over,” the Iranian president said. “If Christ were on Earth today, undoubtedly He would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime.”
Dorothy Byrne, head of news and current affairs at Channel 4, said: “As the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East, President Ahmadinejad’s views are enormously influential. As we approach a critical time in international relations, we are offering our viewers an insight into an alternative world view.”
Ahmadinejad surprised many by reining back on rhetoric and offering the British people his warm wishes. In the speech he sent his congratulations to “the followers of Abrahamic faiths, especially the followers of Jesus Christ, and the people of Britain.”