Conflicting Reports Emerge on Council on Foreign Relations Meeting With Iranian President After Backlash From GOP, Irate Exiles 

‘Evil will not appear so banal if we take the time to peel away its mask,’ an Iranian-born writer asserts.

AP/Vahid Salemi
Iran's president, Ebrahim Raisi, at Tehran, August 29, 2023. AP/Vahid Salemi

The Council on Foreign Relations has abandoned its meeting with the Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, after Iranian-Americans and Republicans in Congress objected to his scheduled speech at the foreign policy think tank and the United Nations on Tuesday. 

Representatives of the council told reporters gathered outside its offices at New York City that the private gathering of Mr. Raisi and invited guests had been canceled.

“Evil will not appear so banal if we take the time to peel away its mask,” an Iranian-born writer, Roya Hakakian, asserted in response to the news.

Mr. Raisi’s presence at the council would have been “a political baptism for a man who has been implicated in countless crimes,” Ms. Hakakian said in an earlier statement on Twitter, now called X, in which she declined her own invitation to the meeting. Later, the policy director of United Against Nuclear Iran, Jason Brodsky, reported that the meeting was postponed until Wednesday, and would be held at another location.

The meeting was set to take place on the anniversary of the Iranian protests against human rights abuses and economic troubles that swept through the nation last year. 

“Providing such a storied platform to such a man will be legitimizing him,” Ms. Hakakian proclaimed. “It is, therefore, an insult to the memory of the protestors who were, and are, fighting for democracy, and it is, therefore, profoundly unamerican.”

“When any organization hosts such a figure with a long history of spreading mistruths,” a U.S. Department of State spokesman, Matthew Miller, said in a statement last week, “we would just urge them to watch very carefully what he says, make sure they hold him accountable, make sure that their members have full access to truthful, accurate information.”

Republican senators pushed for the Biden administration to ban Mr. Raisi from entering the country ahead of his speech at the United Nations. He was sanctioned by the Trump administration for carrying out the massacres of thousands of Iranian demonstrators in 2019 and political prisoners in 1988.

“Raisi actively supports terrorism and wants to kill American citizens,” Senator Rubio said in a statement last week. “Although I’m not surprised he wants to reunite with the many other murderers and thugs who claim membership at the United Nations, Raisi should not be allowed into the United States.”

CORRECTION: Conflicting reports have emerged about whether the Council on Foreign Relations meeting with the Iranian president would be held. An earlier version was based on a single report.

The New York Sun

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