The Government and the Conservatives have criticised Channel 4’s decision to broadcast an Alternative Christmas Message by homophobic, anti-Semitic Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said “The British media are rightly free to make their own editorial choices, but this invitation will cause offence and bemusement not just at home but amongst friendly countries abroad.”
Louise Ellman, Labour MP for Liverpool Riverside said:: “I condemn Channel 4’s decision to give an unchallenged platform to a dangerous fanatic who denies the holocaust while preparing for another and claims homosexuality does not exist while his regime hangs gay young men from cranes in the street.”
Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said: “The invitation to President Ahmadinejad from Channel 4 is bizarre and ill-judged.
“He is known internationally for his defiance of the international community over Iran’s nuclear programme, and his government at home presides over repeated human rights abuses.
“To choose him for a Christmas Day message gives the false impression he has a ready audience for his views and is insulting to the people of Britain.”
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, writing on PinkNews.co.uk said: “Channel 4 should pull the plug on this criminal despot, who ranks with Robert Mugabe, Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and the Burmese military junta as one of the world’s most bloody rulers.
Channel 4 broadcast the address by President Ahmadinejad as an alternative to the address by the Queen that is broadcast by all of the other British broadcasters. The first Alternative Christmas Message was given by gay icon Quentin Crisp.
While the decision to allow Ahmadinejad to address the nation on Christmas Day is undoubtedly controversial, his actual message was actually considerably measured
“In the Name of God the Compassionate, the Merciful.
Upon the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, Son of Mary, the Word of God, the Messenger of mercy, I would like to congratulate the followers of Abrahamic faiths, especially the followers of Jesus Christ, and the people of Britain.
“The Almighty created the universe for human beings and human beings for Himself. He created every human being with the ability to reach the heights of perfection. He called on man to make every Teffort to live a good life in this world and to work to achieve his everlasting life.
“On this difficult and challenging journey of man from dust to the divine, He did not leave humanity to its own devices. He chose from those He created the most excellent as His Prophets to guide humanity.
“All Prophets called for the worship of God, for love and brotherhood, for the establishment of justice and for love in human society. Jesus, the Son of Mary, is the standard-bearer of justice, of love for our fellow human beings, of the fight against tyranny, discrimination and injustice.
“All the problems that have bedevilled humanity throughout the ages came about because humanity followed an evil path and disregarded the message of the Prophets.
“Now as human society faces a myriad of problems and a succession of complex crises, the root causes can be found in humanity’s rejection of that message, in particular the indifference of some governments and powers towards the teachings of the divine Prophets, especially those of Jesus Christ.
“The crises in society, the family, morality, politics, security and the economy which have made life hard for humanity and continue to put great pressure on all nations have come about because the Prophets have been forgotten, the Almighty has been forgotten and some leaders are estranged from God.
“If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would stand with the people in opposition to bullying, ill-tempered and expansionist powers.
“If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would hoist the banner of justice and love for humanity to oppose warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies the world over.
“If Christ were on earth today, undoubtedly He would fight against the tyrannical policies of prevailing global economic and political systems, as He did in His lifetime. The solution to today’s problems is a return to the call of the divine Prophets. The solution to these crises is to follow the Prophets – they were sent by the Almighty for the good of humanity.
“Today, the general will of nations is calling for fundamental change. This is now taking place. Demands for change, demands for transformation, demands for a return to human values are fast becoming the foremost demands of the nations of the world. The response to these demands must be real and true. The prerequisite to this change is a change in goals, intentions and directions. If tyrannical goals are repackaged in an attractive and deceptive package and imposed on nations again, the people, awakened, will stand up against them.
“Fortunately, today, as crises and despair multiply, a wave of hope is gathering momentum. Hope for a brighter future and hope for the establishment of justice, hope for real peace, hope for finding virtuous and pious rulers who love the people and want to serve them – and this is what the Almighty has promised.
“We believe, Jesus Christ will return, together with one of the children of the revered Messenger of Islam and will lead the world to love, brotherhood and justice. The responsibility of all followers of Christ and Abrahamic faiths is to prepare the way for the fulfilment of this divine promise and the arrival of that joyful, shining and wonderful age. I hope that the collective will of nations will unite in the not too distant future and with the grace of the Almighty Lord, that shining age will come to rule the earth.
“Once again, I congratulate one and all on the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ. I pray for the New Year to be a year of happiness, prosperity, peace and brotherhood for humanity. I wish you every success and happiness.”