ADL Applauds UNESCO Decision to Withdraw Support from World Philosophy Day in Iran

New York, NY, November 9, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the decision by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization, to withdraw its sponsorship from a World Philosophy Day event taking place in Tehran on November 21.

The United States, France and others had strongly urged UNESCO to disassociate itself from the Iranian event, arguing that Iran's human rights violations and its crackdown on students, academics and academic freedom made it an unsuitable location for World Philosophy Day – an annual event that brings together leading philosophers from around the world for a day of discussion and debate.

"We welcome the decision by Director-General Irina Bokova to withdraw UNESCO's endorsement of World Philosophy Day in Iran," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "This action sends an important message of standing up for international norms of academic freedom and free speech. We commend the United States, and the diplomatic efforts of U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO David Killion, for their effective leadership in urging the Director-General to take this action."

Earlier this month, ADL appealed to Ms. Bokova to remove UNESCO's name from the proceedings, stating in a letter: "Iran's long record of suppressing free speech and the rights of certain religious minorities, censoring the media, and inhibiting the free teaching of social sciences and the humanities should not be given legitimacy by UNESCO. To do so would seriously undermine the integrity and credibility of the international community's leading organization promoting media and educational freedom."

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