Oslo/Geneva April 20- Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre on Monday “strongly rejected” remarks by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a United Nations conference on racism and discrimination. “I strongly reject the previous speaker’s remarks,” Støre said when he was the first speaker to take the floor after Ahmadinejad’s speech, news agency NTB reported.
Several delegates left the conference in Geneva after the Iranian leader made derisive remarks about Israel. The Iranian leader said that Palestinians had been “made homeless” following World War II “under the pretext of Jewish suffering.”
The Norwegian foreign minister, however, stayed at the conference, and said Ahmadinejad had set himself apart from others, violating the spirit of the conference and was “the odd man out.”
“Norway will not accept that ‘the odd man out’ hijacks the collective effort of the many,” Støre said according to a text released by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry. Støre said in his remarks, “This is the rostrum of the United Nations. By definition it is a rostrum for the freedom of speech – crucial among human rights.”
“But the document that we have agreed is also clear on the need to protect against the incitement of hatred,” Støre added. “I heard the messages in the President’s speech – and they amount to just that: Incitement of hatred, spreading politics of fear and promoting an indiscriminate message of intolerance.”
In his remarks, Støre said Norway “could not accept a text that would attempt to rewrite history. Some have attempted to degrade the terrible lessons from Holocaust. That is unacceptable.”