EU to host a ‘key figure’ in Iran’s violent crackdown on protests
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EU to host a ‘key figure’ in Iran’s violent crackdown on protests

Israeli lawmakers and Jewish groups call on European Parliament panel to cancel meeting with senior MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

President of the Iranian Parliament's Foreign Policy and National Security Committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi waits for the start of a press conference in Madrid, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007 (photo credit: AP/Sergio Barrenechea)
President of the Iranian Parliament's Foreign Policy and National Security Committee Alaeddin Boroujerdi waits for the start of a press conference in Madrid, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007 (photo credit: AP/Sergio Barrenechea)

The European Parliament is set to host a senior Iranian official said to have been involved in a violent crackdown on protesters, prompting criticism from Iranian opposition groups and Israeli politicians.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, who chairs the Committee for Foreign Policy and National Security of Iran’s parliament, known as the Majlis, is to be hosted by the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee on Tuesday for an “exchange of views.” On Wednesday, Boroujerdi is scheduled to participate in a seminar about bilateral Iran-EU relations.

A strong supporter of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Boroujerdi is said to have been instrumental in organizing the regime’s violent response to the recent protests across the country, which left 21 people dead.

Anders Primdahl Visitsen, the co-chair of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, called Boroujerdi a “key figure of violent crackdown on peaceful protests” and lambasted the committee for holding “a counter-terrorism seminar with biggest sponsor of terror in region & against own people!

In Israel, both coalition and opposition MKs slammed the EU for hosting Boroujerdi.

“The European Parliament’s decision to host a senior official of the Iranian regime that brutally suppressed Iranians demonstrating for freedom shows, once again, Europe’s preference for profits over human rights,” Deputy Minister for Diplomacy Michael Oren said Sunday. “And by hosting an anti-Semite who denies the Holocaust and routinely calls for Israel’s destruction, the parliament shows that Europe has learned nothing.”

MK Yair Lapid, who leads the opposition Yesh Atid party, called on the European Parliament to cancel Boroujerdi’s appearance in Brussels.

“The European Union must cancel the invitation for a man who supported the violent crackdown against peaceful protesters, is a central voice in the aggressive foreign policy of Iran — which exports terror and calls for the destruction of Israel — and who represents the antithesis of Western values,” he told The Times of Israel on Sunday.

“The European Union preaches human rights and democracy to the world but those words are empty and meaningless if they welcome Alaeddin Boroujerdi with open arms,” Lapid said.

University students attend a protest inside Tehran University while a smoke grenade is thrown by Iranian anti-riot police, in Tehran, Iran, December 30, 2017. (AP Photo)

Iranian opposition groups pointed to Boroujerdi’s strong links to Iran’s supreme leader, saying he was a close relative.

The American Jewish Committee also expressed concern over the EU’s warm welcome for Boroujerdi.

“At the very least, Europe’s lawmakers ought to use this occasion to publicly condemn the regime’s shameful acts and demand answers on Iran’s plots in Germany and possibly other EU countries,” said Daniel Schwammenthal, the director of the AJC’s EU office.

On January 11, the EU hosted Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at its Brussels headquarters.

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