Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in New York today speaking to students at Columbia University and the invitation to speak is putting school officials on the defensive.
The U.S. State Department calls Iran one of the largest state sponsors of terrorism and Ahmadinejad is accused of funneling weapons to militants in neighboring Iraq.
Today, students at one of America’s top universities get the chance to confront the man many see as a threat to the United States.
Amid controversy and protests, Ahmadinejad faced free speech and a wave of criticism at a forum for world leaders at Columbia.
Columbia University President Lee Bollinger was critical of Ahmadinejad in his introduction. “Today I feel all the weight of all of the civilized world turning to express the revulsion of what you stand for,” Bollinger said.
Ahmadinejad did not take the comments lightly. “The text read was an insult to information addressing me and an insult to information and to the audience here,” Ahmadinejad said.
The Iranian leader — who refers to the Holocaust as a “myth,” calls for the destruction of Israel and is defiant over U.S. and international demands to shut down his nuclear program — generates both curiosity and outrage in his own country and here in America.