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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 September 2006, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Iran's Khatami condemns US policy
By Ian Brimacombe
BBC News, Chicago

Mohammad Khatami was Iranian president from 1997 to 2005
Khatami's visit has upset Jewish groups and some lawmakers
Ex-Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has delivered a scathing criticism of US foreign policy to an annual gathering of Muslims in Illinois.

He said US anti-terrorism policies were actually inciting terrorism and accused the US of trying to dominate the world.

Mr Khatami is the most senior Iranian official to visit the US since the severing of ties with Iran in 1979.

He was speaking at the Islamic Society of North America convention, which has drawn tens of thousands of Muslims.

'False perception'

Mohammad Khatami was the most anticipated speaker at the convention and his speech was surprisingly direct.

As America claims to be fighting terrorism it implements policies which lead to the intensification of terrorism
Mohammad Khatami

Within minutes of taking the podium he was attacking the portrayal of Islam in the popular media in the West.

"Media Islam is the result of a one-sided understanding of Islam that is represented to us in a solitary, cliched and vicious way," he said.

"The political version of Islam that is displayed is merely an imaginary version of Islam. What has been stated is a dark and false perception of Islam and the East."

The perceived behaviour of Western power was a key theme of the speech.

Mr Khatami referred to vast, all-encompassing powers that expressed concern for the world, but implemented policies aimed at devouring it.

And he directly criticised US policies, which he said exploited "the grandeur of the nation and country of the United States for the subjugation and domination of the world".

He added: "As America claims to be fighting terrorism it implements policies which lead to the intensification of terrorism and institutionalised violence."

The three-day conference in Rosemont, Illinois, has drawn tens of thousands of Muslims from Canada and around the United States.

The US State Department had issued Mr Khatami a visitor's visa with no restrictions, a move that upset Jewish groups and some lawmakers here.

Mr Khatami is expected to travel to Washington and then speak at events at the United Nations and Harvard University.

Protests against Khatami US visa
31 Aug 06 |  Middle East

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