Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Mondial Part II: Israeli Flags off the Field

The sign reads “Red [Card] for Ahmadinejad” (AP, ZDF)

German Jews, Iranian dissidents, and German leftists used the occasion of the Iran-Portugal World Cup match in Frankfurt on Saturday, June 17 to join forces in protest against Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime. They had previously demonstrated together in Nuremberg (Nürnberg), on June 11, before the Iran-Mexico game. The protest in Frankfurt was explicitly directed at the vice president of the Islamic Republic, Mohammed Aliabadi, who had come to watch the game. Although the right-wing extremist NPD (German National-Democratic Party) had attempted to stage a rally in support of Ahmadinejad and his denial of the Shoah, the city of Frankfurt forbade the neo-Nazi protest, citing security concerns (Oberbayrisches Volksblatt, HR-Online). However, neo-Nazis did stage a protest Saturday, June 10 in Nürnberg, calling on “Solidarity with Iran” and shouting “Ausländer raus” [foreigners go home] (NZZ).

The German Jewish historian Arno Lustiger, a Holocaust survivor, demanded that Ahmadinejad be banned from entering Europe. He called on the Federal Republic of Germany to show [the Iranian president] the red card,” and remarked that Ahmadinejad hoped to plunge Israel into a “nuclear Holocaust” (HR-Online).

The Frankfurt and Nuremberg demonstrations were both supported by many mainstream German politicians. Claudia Roth from the Green Party as well as the Bavarian Interior Minister Günther Beckstein of the Christian Social Union (CSU) addressed the Nuremberg protests. Beckstein told the protesters that

Only a diplomatic passport would prevent [Ahmadinejad’s] arrest, should the Iranian president come to Germany,

adding that while

Germans are friends of the Iranian people, they are strong opponents of a man who denies the Holocaust (

At the Saturday protest, the leader of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Frankfurt, Franz Frey, declared that

the Iranian regime’s hate-spewing preachers are not our friends and therefore not welcome (HR-Online).

In the meantime, on the football side of things, Portugal disposed of Iran 2:0, preventing a second-round appearance by the Islamic Republic (and, possibly, a visit by Ahmadinejad). Mexico had earlier defeated the Iranians 3:1.

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