When it was confirmed that Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would visit Rome, three weeks ago, to attend the FAO summit on food security on June 3, the Italian daily, Il Riformista launched an appeal to the country’s leadership to shun the man who calls for Israel’s destruction while seeking a nuclear weapon to fulfil that threat. The newspaper published the appeal, alongside support for the initiative from both Italy’s foreign minister, Franco Frattini, and the shadow foreign minister, Piero Fassino, as well as an article calling on the Mayor of Rome to embrace a symbolic measure to embarrass Iran’s leaders: rename the Iranian embassy’s address (Via Nomentana 361) after an Iranian student was recently imprisoned for five months and condemned to an additional 10 floggings for having endangered the country’s security. His crime? Having spoken out against Ahmadinejad.
The student, Ali Nikou-Mesbati, actually heard about the initiative and wrote to the newspaper, thanking them for the support and suggesting that, instead, the street be renamed “9 of July Street” after the date of the Iranian student protest, when students took to the street to protest for democracy. The ensuing repression caused hundreds of casualties and arrests–and it took place under the watchful eye of then reformist president, Mohammad Khatami.
And just yesterday the mayor of Rome has endorsed the initiative. Which means that every time Iran’s president wants to send a postcard to his ambassador in Rome, he’ll be reminded of the fact that not everyone in Iran shares the repressive, intolerant and, frankly, weird vision of the world that Ahmadinejad wishes to impose on his own country.