Iranian President Makes Controversial Columbia Visit

Friday, September 21, 2007

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may be blocked from visiting Ground Zero but he will get a chance to hold forth on his controversial views at Columbia University on Monday. WNYC's Arun Venugopal has more.

REPORTER: The event was initially meant to be a speech by the Iranian president, but under pressure from university officials, he agreed to take questions from the audience as well. The first questions will come from university president Lee Bollinger, who says he'll challenge Ahmadinejad on his denial of the Holocaust and his calls for the destruction of Israel.

The event has generated plenty of criticism, but it's also spurred an unlikely alliance between student conservatives and liberals, who are siding with the university. Chris Kulawik is the president of the College Republicans.

KULAWIK: This is academia. This is a forum. And we're going to challenge his ideas as best we can. Because we know in the end he's going to look like an idiot in the eyes of the world.

REPORTER: And when he's not inside listening to the debate, Kulawik says he'll be outside, protesting the Iranian president. For WNYC, I'm Arun Venugopal.

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