GENEVA (Reuters) - Iran launched a fierce verbal assault on the West on Monday, charging some European countries of subjecting Muslim communities to insult and violence and suggesting the United States and Europe aided terrorism.
Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the United Nations Human Rights Council, to which it is bidding for election in May, that some Western states are gross violators of rights and are promoting lewdness to undermine family life.
“There is a growing trend in applying double standards by the Western countries with regard to the freedom of expression and opinion,” Mottaki told the 47-member forum at the start of its main annual four-week session.
“Muslims throughout the world in general and the Muslim communities in Western countries in particular, have been the target not only of massive propaganda campaigns but outright social castigation and open violence, all under the pretext of freedom of expression,” he declared.
He then departed from a prepared text to declare that an arrested Iranian Sunni leader Abdolmalek Rigi had recently been in a U.S. base in Kyrgyzstan, a charge already denied by Washington.
“This terrorist person killed or injured more than 400 Iranians,” Mottaki declared. “Are they fighting against terrorism? Can we believe it?” he asked in a clear reference to the United States.
He also demanded to know what the United States and European countries were doing to establish who killed a Palestinian Hamas leader in Dubai in January, an operation widely believed to have been the work of Israeli agents.
Speaking soon after Mottaki, U.S. under-Secretary of State for democracy and global affairs Maria Otero made no mention of his speech, while complaining about what she called the disproportionate amount of time the council spent on Israel.
But at a later news conference she said freedom of expression should be at the core of the work of the forum — which the United States joined last year. The previous administration of George W. Bush stood aloof from the body.
Asked about Iran’s bid to join the body, she replied: “It is very important for the council to keep a focus on human rights abuses in Iran and make sure that focus is maintained and addressed.”
In his speech Mottaki said countries which he declared had prepared the fake passports of EU and other states Dubai police say were used by the killers of the Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, themselves had questions to answer.
Mottaki’s charges came in the wake of a warning from a senior military official in Tehran on Sunday that Iran could make European countries suffer by cutting off energy supplies and target any adversary with its missiles.
The board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was meeting on Monday to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at making weapons and Iran says is peaceful.
The IAEA’s new Japanese head Yukiya Amano, who is already under fire from Tehran for a report suggesting it could be making a weapon, said on Monday he was taking a factual approach to Iran’s nuclear work.
On the human rights front, Iran has for months been under fierce criticism from the West over its suppression of protests following presidential elections in June.
Mottaki said the elections, in which President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared winner over opposition protests, was “an exemplary exhibition of democracy and freedom.”
Editing by Stephanie Nebehay and Jon Hemming