National Arts Centre criticized for hosting Iranian culture event

OTTAWA – The National Arts Centre in Ottawa is under fire for hosting an event put on by a what critics say is a front organization for the Embassy of Iran.

The NAC has received 20 complaints for hosting a cultural day dubbed “Iran, Land of Glory,” organized by Iran Culture, which has its offices in the Iranian embassy in Ottawa.

Shabnam Assabollahi, an Ottawa-based human rights activist and journalist who spent time as a political prisoner in Iran, penned a letter of complaint to both the NAC and the federal government when she heard the event was taking place.

“How about an event called ‘Iran: A Land of Execution,'” she said. “We’re talking about a brutal country that doesn’t respect human rights having an event in our own country. Canada has no room for people working against human rights.”

NAC spokeswoman Rosemary Thompson said the centre understood the complaints over the artifacts and art show, but its hands were tied.

“We certainly sympathize with their concern but there was nothing that prevented this event from taking place,” she said, noting Iran Culture had simply rented the room and the NAC wasn’t selling tickets or promoting the show. “It’s really important to note the NAC did not sponsor the event.”


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