NEW YORK -
Several thousand Iranian exiles protested in front of the UN headquarters,
denouncing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a "terrorist" as he attended
the UN summit of world leaders.
"Iranians think Ahmadinejad is not their
representative, he's a terrorist," said Bahman
Badiee of the Iran Society of South Florida.
The vast majority of demonstrators were members of the National Council of
Resistance in Iran (NCRI), whose president Maryam
Rajavi lives in exile in France.
The NCRI is the political arm of the People's Mujahedeen
(MEK), which has been fighting the Islamic government in Tehran since the mid-1980s.
The MEK has been branded a terrorist organisation
in both the United
States and EU, and Rajavi
is leading the campaign to have the label removed.
The protestors carried banners reading "No to terrorist Ahmadinejad" and "Terrorist Ahmadinejad - Out of UN," but Badiee
stressed the protestors also carried a message for the international
community to leave Iran's future to Iranians.
"We tell the world leaders ... you can't make the decision on what you
want to do in Iran
... make some deals or start a war," he said. "We don't want
appeasement. We don't want war. We want to change the government."
Ahmadinejad was due to address the UN summit
later Wednesday, with Iranian officials saying he would present new
proposals to defuse suspicion over Tehran's
nuclear weapons ambitions.
The United States
is hoping to use the three-day gathering to rally support for possible UN
sanctions against the Islamic Republic for resuming sensitive work on
"Ahmadinejad not only represents a terrorist
regime, he is himself a terrorist," said Hamid
Dara of the New York Committee Against Ahmadinejad, just one of the exile groups from around
that participated in Wednesday's demonstration.
"He has ordered executions. He's a former commander of Iran's
Revolutionary Guard," Dara said.