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Queen and Iranian President Deliver Christmas Messages Televised in Britain

In her traditional Christmas message to the country, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II focused on the concerns many are feeling this year about the deepening economic downturn. Meanwhile, Britain's Channel 4 Television has broadcast what it calls an alternative Christmas address, delivered by the President of Iran.

Mindful of the prolonged recession many in Britain are predicting, Queen Elizabeth II noted that these are nervous times for many. Unemployment is rising steadily, a number of major retail outlets have already gone out of business and some big banks are only operating now with the help of government assistance.

"Christmas is a time for celebration but this year, it is a more somber occasion for many. Some of those things which could once have been taken for granted suddenly seem less certain and naturally give rise to feelings of insecurity," she said. "People are touched by events which have their roots far across the world, whether it is the global economy or violence in a distant land, the effects can be keenly felt at home."

The Queen's Christmas speech represents one of the rare occasions in the year when she can freely express her own views.

Her annual TV broadcast goes back to 1957.

Meanwhile in a tradition stretching back over the past 16 years, a so-called Alternative Christmas Message was broadcast on British national TV outlet, Channel Four.

This year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was given the platform.

In his speech, Ahmadinejad rhetorically asks what Jesus Christ would make of the current world. The Iranian leader concludes he would hoist the banner of justice and oppose what he called warmongers, occupiers, terrorists and bullies around the world.

The message has generated controversy in some quarters here. Britain's Foreign Office predicts it may cause offense amongst what it calls friendly nations abroad.

The head of Channel Four News says it is enormously important to hear the views of the leader of one of the most powerful states in the Middle East.