December 25 2008
Every year, the British television broadcaster Channel 4 produces an alternative to to the Queen’s Christmas speech. In previous years it has been delivered by a fully veiled Muslim woman and Genelle Guzman, a 9/11 survivor. This year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke for seven minutes.
He used the speech to condemn Western leaders for their neglect of Jesus’ teachings, saying “Jesus, the Son of Mary, is the standard-bearer of justice, of love for our fellow human beings, of the fight against tyranny, discrimination and injustice”.
Hands Off the People of Iran (Hopi) does not believe Ahmadinejad is a responsible choice for the Christmas speech: he is a right-wing hardliner, whose regime persecutes women, LGBT people, ethnic minority groups, trade unionists and socialists, secularists and political dissenters. In addition, Ahmadinejad was a supporter of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and is currently benefiting from these occupations.
Dorothy Byrne, head of news and current affairs at Channel 4, claimed the network had a responsibility to broadcast “alternative voices”. Hopi believes this decision was taken purely to court controversy and demands that Channel 4 issue a full apology. A far better choice for the alternative Christmas message would have been one of the many organisations and individuals fighting both for freedom in Iran and against the possibility of imperialist war on their country, such as the group “Students for Freedom and Equality”.