Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Khatami Attends Meeting in Riggs

Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami met with faculty, administrators and local leaders Friday in Riggs Library, in a visit to Georgetown that university officials did not publicize and kept closed from the public. The “off-the-record round-table discussion,” as it was characterized by university spokesman Eric Smulson, was not announced on the university’s public calendar, which includes speakers and other public events. Although it had been reported by several sources, including Fox News and The Harvard Crimson, that Khatami was planning to visit Georgetown, the date of the appearance was not specified. Attendees of the meeting, which was sponsored by the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for uslim-Christian Understanding, were individually invited to the event. Khatami’s visit, part of a two-week, five-city tour of the United States, came one day after he delivered a speech at the Washington National Cathedral. Khatami’s trip also featured a speech at Harvard University on Sunday that drew protest from hundreds around campus. The protest was organized by the university’s Democratic and Republican student organizations. Khatami, who was president of Iran for eight years beginning in 1997, is recognized by many as a reformer, but his tenure was mired by crackdowns on student activists in 1999 that some said violated human rights and strained relations with the United States. In recent months, the U.S. government has been working with Iran’s administration, on a deal to halt the country’s nuclear program. The U.S. State Department severed diplomatic ties with Iran in 1979. Gov. Mitt Romney (R-Mass.) refused to allow state police to provide Khatami with protection during his visit to Harvard, calling the visit a “disgrace” because of Iran’s ties to extremist groups. Others criticized Harvard for the timing of the speech, which occurred on the eve of the five-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It is widely believed that Iran has funded Hezbollah and terrorism in Iraq. According to the Crimson, Khatami “did not directly apologize for Iran’s human rights abuses” during his speech, which focused on the need to spread democracy and halt the ethnic violence that has long persisted in the Middle East. Jessica Rappaport (SFS ’08), president of social and cultural affairs for the Georgetown-Israel Alliance, said that she supports Khatami’s right to visit and speak on campus. “I wasn’t even informed of it until it was actually happening,” Rappaport added. Khatami was granted personal approval for his visit by President Bush. The former Iranian president, however, is not publicly scheduled to meet with any U.S. government officials.

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