As part of its annual “alternative Christmas message,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was invited to address the audience of Britain’s Channel 4. And while the president congratulated Christians “upon the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, Son of Mary, the Word of God, the Messenger of mercy,” he still managed to provoke outrage across Britain.
Most of the complaints came more from his being on television than anything in particular he said. British Rabbi Aaron Goldstein complained “that this character is being allowed to dress himself up as a kind of Father Christmas,” presumably only metaphorically, while human rights campaigners accused the channel of “aiding and abetting a tyrant.”
But Henry Grunwald of the Board of Deputies of British Jews declared the broadcast offensive and said it “fills me with disgust.” Israeli Ambassador to the UK also lashed out at the speech, declaring “outrage doesn’t begin to explain it.”
In the speech, Ahmadinejad made no direct references to Israel or the United States. He did however, declare that “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.” Such a claim, it seems, is all it takes for the unpopular Ahmadinejad to earn the wrath of myriad organizations.