Alternative Christmas message about Jesus causes outrage

By staff writers
December 25, 2008

Channel 4 television's decision to broadcast an Alternative Christmas Message by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has angered human rights campaigners.

Others are arguing that the message he conveys about Jesus is positive, but that governments and religions are singularly failing to live up to it.

The speech from the controversial Iranian leader, whose anti-Western rhetoric and views on the abolition of the State of Israel and against homosexuality have caused international condemnation, is not scheduled at the same time as the trdaitional Queen's Speech on the BBC, but will go out at 7.15pm this evening.

However, ironically, the president uses the message to express his wish for a peaceful New Year and greater spirituality among governments, leaders and society as a whole.

Indeed, some commentators are noting that Ahmadinejad's message contains more references to the life and example of Jesus than many clerical Christian ones - though in both cases the observation is in the breach, it often seems.

Speaking in Farsi with English subtitles he will say: "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.

"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."

Peter Tatchell, human rights spokesperson for the Green Party of England, denounced the broadcast: "Channel 4 has handed President Ahmadinejad a propaganda victory. It has given him a prime-time slot in which he poses as a defender of justice and peace, while ignoring his own human rights abuses. His regime executes children, journalists, gay people, and political, religious and ethnic dissidents. There are no apologies for these crimes against humanity in the President's broadcast."

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