As Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad spoke at the United Nations in New York Monday, several groups of demonstrators gathered to both protest and support the Iranian leader.
A group of American elected officials held a news conference near the United Nations headquarters in New York and called the appearance of Iran's president at a nuclear review meeting there a "sham". President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke during the U.N. review of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, just as the international community considers imposing tougher sanctions against Tehran for continuing its sensitive nuclear work.
Kirsten Gillibrand, a U.S. Senator from New York State, said members of the Senate and the House of Representatives are holding a conference in Washington to discuss legislation on possible sanctions.
"Hopefully what emerges from that conference will be the toughest, most significant sanctions we have ever seen that really will force Iran to make a choice," she said. "And the choice is, either join the world economic community or continue to pursue your nuclear ambitions. You cannot have it both ways," said Gillibrand.
Senator Gillibrand also called for hearings to investigate companies doing business with Iran.
Congressman Jerrold Nadler accused the Iranian president of spouting deceptive and anti-Semitic propaganda before a world stage. In contrast, a small anti-Zionist orthodox Jewish group held signs welcoming the Iranian leader. Their spokesman was Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss.
"We are coming out here to show our thankfulness to the President of Iran for his protection and respect for the Jewish community," he said.
Another group of demonstrators was led by Bitta Mostofi, an Iranian-American civil rights attorney. She urged the world community to focus on human rights violations in Iran and said sanctions will impose increased hardships on the people of that country.
"That is going to take people who are barely sustaining themselves inside of Iran, who have called consistently for help in an economy that has an inflation rate of 25 percent, to have a further difficult life," she said. "Our goal is to hopefully advocate for policies that put their human rights concerns at the forefront of every conversation that the international community has," said Mostofi.
The demonstrators were kept several city blocks from the United Nations building where the treaty review conference is taking place.