Tehran/Berlin – The Iranian Foreign Ministry called in the French charge d’affaires in Tehran Wednesday to demand that the European Union (EU) prevent the holding of an “anti-Islam congress” planned for the German city of Cologne later this month.
The Foreign Ministry voiced concern about what it called the “growing anti-Islam trend” in Europe, appealing to the current French presidency of the EU to act, the official news agency IRNA reported.
IRNA reported that the French diplomat had condemned all forms of racism, pledging that the Iranian request would be followed up and Tehran would be kept informed about the congress.
The congress has been called by the right-wing, Cologne-based, activist group Pro-Cologne, which last month failed in its attempts to halt the building of a large mosque in the western German city.
Pro-Cologne has called a three-day anti-Islam congress for September 19-21, drawing support from the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FPOe) and the Belgian-Flemish right-wing Vlaams Belang Party, as well as prominent French right-winger Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the Front National (FN).
“The time has come to draw the line: Europe and Germany say ‘no’ to Islamification and immigrant invasion,” the organization proclaims in German, French, Italian and English in advertising the congress on its website.
The congress, which culminates in a mass rally on Cologne’s Haymarket square on September 20, is aimed at promoting “Western values and Christian traditions.” Le Pen is expected to speak.
Pro-Cologne uses as its logo a mosque with a red line drawn through it in the shape of a traffic sign.
Left-wing groups have called counter-demonstrations to coincide with the rally.
Yes, as opposed to censoring, that’s how things usually work in the West: anyone disagreeing with your views is welcome to “demonstrate,” peacefully.
The Interior Ministry of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, within which Cologne falls, said it had looked into banning the congress, but had come to the conclusion that there were insufficient grounds to do so.
Because it has nothing to do with “race,” but rather political ideologies in the guise of religion.
The German constitution gave strong protection to freedom of assembly, Interior Ministry spokeswoman Carola Holzberg said.
Holzberg said pro-KÃ¶ln had informed police they were expecting around 1,000 supporters to attend the September 20 rally.
Police are expecting up to 40,000 to protest against the congress.
On August 28, the Cologne City Council gave the go-ahead for a controversial mosque with a dome 37 metres high and two minarets rising to 55 metres to be built in the suburb of Ehrenfeld. (dpa)