Berlin Mayor to host Iranian counterpart who called for Israel’s demise

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Michael Müller is facing criticism for failing to curb rising antisemitism in the German capital by hosting a meeting on Friday with Tehran’s mayor Pirouz Hanachi.

By Benjamin Weinthal
Source: The Jerusalem Post
Berlin Mayor Michael Müller. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Berlin mayor Michael Müller is again facing criticism for failing to curb rising anti semitism in the German capital by hosting a meeting on Friday with Tehran’s mayor Pirouz Hanachi, a former member of the US sanctioned terrorist organization, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [IRGC], who has participated in a rally calling for Israel’s destruction.

Stephan Grigat, the academic director of the organization Stop the Bomb, which seeks to end the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons program, blasted Müller on Wednesday for his upcoming meeting with “Hanachi and the ambassador of the antisemitic Iranian terror regime on Friday in the Red City Hall” in Berlin.

Stop the Bomb noted that Hanachi recently participated in an Iranian-sponsored Al-Quds rally that propagates the obliteration of the Jewish state. He said one cannot chat with representatives of the Iranian regime and ignore Tehran’s “hatred of Israel, massive human rights violations and support of terror.”

According to Iran’s state-controlled press outlet ISNA, Hanachi was a member of the IRGC.

The IRGC paid convicted Pakistani agent Haidar Syed-Naqfi at least €2,052 from July 2015 through July 2016 to spy on Jewish and pro-Israel figure and institutions. According to German authorities, his actions were “a clear indication of an assassination attempt.” 

Remko Leemhuis, Assistant Director for Policy and Public Affairs for the American Jewish Committee office in Berlin, also took the mayor to task for his planned welcome of Hanachi and Iran’s ambassador to Germany, Mahmoud Farazandeh.

“We cannot accept the fact that in Berlin, of all places, representatives of a regime will be welcomed that are threatening Israel with its destruction and financially massively supporting the terrorist group Hezbollah, which poses a massive threat to the Jewish community and the security of the capital,” said Leemhuis.

He added that Müller sends the wrong signal to all of those people in this country who are fighting antisemitism on a daily basis. Leemhuis said the mayor is undermining projects and efforts that work to combat antisemitism because he is hosting a “representative of a regime that denies the Holocaust.”

The Kurdish community of Germany tweeted on Wednesday: “How can it be that Berlin’s governing mayor, Michael Müller, receives an ex-member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard?” The Kurdish community wrote that Müller’s Social Democratic Party of Germany “once stood once for the oppressed and against fascists…A shame!”

Members of Müller’s party from the federal foreign affairs ministry and German federal president Frank Walter-Steimeier celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution in Iran in February. In January, Iran’s clerical publicly regime hanged a man based on an anti-gay charge.

When asked about the criticism on Twitter, Müller’s Twitter feed sent the Post a series of Tweets defending the planned meeting with Hanachi. Müller said the meeting was a result of a positive assessment of the foreign ministry. “Of course, the governing mayor will also use the meeting to underline the state of Israel’s right to exist and highlight Berlin’s special relationship with Israel,” said the mayor’s Twitter feed.

The human rights organization, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, considered including Müller on its top-ten list of worst outbreaks of antisemitism in 2017 because the mayor was indifferent to the antisemitic BDS campaign and growing Jew-hatred in the city. The center opted not to include Müller after he condemned BDS and said that city space will not be provided to pro-BDS advocates. The Friedrich Ebert Foundation, the ideas organization for the Social Democratic Party, held a conference in May with a representative from an Iranian institution that promotes Holocaust denial and a second official who supports a war against Israel.

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