Monday, March 5, 2007

Mitt Romney (2006): Governor of Massachusetts

Romney bars state security for Iranian's Harvard visit Cites unacceptable use of funds on `a terrorist'

(September 6, 2006)

Governor Mitt Romney declared he would not allow any state resources to be used to protect a former Iranian president during his visit to the Boston area this weekend, and he sharply criticized Harvard University for inviting Mohammed Khatami to speak on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"There are people in this state who have suffered from terrorism, and taking even a dollar of their money to support a terrorist is unacceptable"

Romney said that he expected the State Department at a meeting scheduled for today to request a State Police escort and other traffic services, but that he had called yesterday to inform them that no such services would be provided.

But after Romney issued a statement yesterday outlining his position -- in which he called Harvard's invitation "a disgrace to the memory of all Americans who have lost their lives at the hands of extremists" -- the Boston Police Department said it would step in.

"We were asked by the State Department to assist in protecting a guest of the United States, and the Police Department plans to oblige," spokeswoman Elaine Driscoll said.

As president of Iran from 1997-2005, Khatami was originally seen as a reformer who opened up ties to the West and allowed more freedom of expression in Iran. But he remained in office during a major crackdown on student protest, in which thousands were arrested, including some who are still in prison. He was replaced by hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has defied international demands to curb Iran's nuclear program and has called for Israel to be "wiped off" the map.

"The shock of the commemoration of a great tragedy coinciding with the visit of a terrorist to our state was too great to go unnoticed," Romney said. "For that reason, I have directed state resources not to be used to ease or encourage his visit."

US officials say Iran played no part in the Sept. 11 attacks, but they still consider it one of the world's leading state sponsors of terrorism because of its funding of the militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas .

Romney said some figures should not be granted an audience. "There are some people who we can all imagine who by virtue of their acts would not be welcome at a campus, and this is one of them".

"The development of nuclear technology, the jailing of students, and religious oppression . . . suggest that his lecture on tolerance would be a farce."

Romney said that if the State Department was worried about Khatami's security in Massachusetts, "they could consider canceling his visit."
That would be this Mohammad Khatami:
After the shah's fall (1979), he returned to Iran and was elected to the national assembly, becoming minister of culture and Islamic guidance (1982–92). Considered a moderate, he eased restrictions on publications, films, art, and music and was ultimately forced to resign after being charged with permissiveness.

Pledging to deal with runaway inflation and high unemployment, he was overwhelmingly elected Iran's president in 1997 with strong support from political moderates, intellectuals, students, and women. As president, he appointed a relatively liberal cabinet and called for political democratization and the advancement of women. He also advocated rapprochement between Iran and Arab states as well as improved relations with the West, including the United States. Many of his reform efforts were opposed by hard-line conservatives in the clergy, judiciary, and military, and his first administration was unable to produce significant economic improvement. Nonetheless, he reluctantly ran and was reelected with more than three fourths of the vote in 2001, as Iranians continued to support greater democracy and social freedom. His second term was little different from the first, as he generally avoided confrontation with the hard-liners and the unelected Guardian Council, even when the latter disqualified many legitimate reformist candidates for the 2004 parliamentary elections. Khatami is the author of Fear of the Wave (1993), an essay collection, and From the World of the City to the City of the World (1994), a study of Western philosophical and political thought.

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