Ahmadinejad attempts to rally expatriates

Canadian invitees to conferences hosted by the Iranian government this spring and summer, aimed at burnishing the country’s image, included a former candidate for the Green Party of Canada and Ontario, as well as a University of Alberta professor.

On Aug. 2 and 3, more than 1,000 Iranian expatriates were welcomed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the “Grand Conference of Iranians Living Abroad” in Tehran. Successful and well-placed Iranians were identified by Iranian embassies, and then offered an all-expenses-paid trip to the conference, with a side trip to a tourist destination. Organizer Mohammad Sharif Malekzadeh said expats are exposed to negative images about Iran because of “lying media organizations outside the country.” The conference would correct this misconception. But according to Potkin Azarmehr, an Iranian blogger based in London, its purpose was to demoralize Iranians “by hiring and bribing a mish-mash of sycophants and turncoats, to say to the Iranian people, despite all their suffering and sacrifices, Ahmadinejad’s administration and not them enjoy widespread support outside Iran.”

The Tehran conference followed an earlier gathering in May in the city of Shiraz, geared toward encouraging foreign investment. Among Canadian delegates was, reportedly, Akbar Manoussi, chair of “clean energy education” at the Willis College of Business, Health, and Technology in Ottawa. He ran fe… >>>

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