Iranian minister's visit to London is 'an insult to British values'


The president of the Board of Deputies has criticised Chatham House's decision to invite the Iranian foreign minister to a London event tomorrow evening.

Jonathan Arkush said the decision to invite Mohammad Javad Zarif – who has publicly supported Hizbollah - to speak at the event was “nothing less than an insult to British values”.

Dr Zarif is set to address key issues in the Middle East, including the rise of Daesh and the conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Mr Arkush said: “To give Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif a platform to speak at a prestigious London venue like Chatham House is nothing less than an insult to British values.

“This is a man who has publicly supported Hizbollah, an Iranian-funded organisation which is widely believed to have perpetrated acts of terror around the world including the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural centre in Argentina which killed 85 people and the bombing of a tourist bus in Bulgaria in 2012 which killed six.”

He added: “[Dr] Zarif represents a regime which has been complicit in massive violations of human rights beyond its borders, including in Syria, where it supports the Houthis, whose flag proclaims ‘Death to the Jews’.

“His is a government which sponsored a Holocaust cartoon competition, condemned around the world and notably by UNESCO.

“[Dr] Zarif is the representative of a vile regime and a pariah terrorist state. His presence at Chatham House is an affront to anyone with a belief in peace and justice.”

The hour-long event – which will be chaired by Sir Richard Dalton - is set to start at 6pm tomorrow.

A spokesman for Chatham House said the body had not received any complaints regarding the event.

In response to Mr Arkush's statement, he added: "As with all such events at Chatham House, policy-makers, academics, journalists and others will have an opportunity to question and challenge the speaker to enable the Institute to facilitate a range of views."

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