God and Ahmadinejad at Columbia: Supreme Leader Sees God's Hand in Speech

By Staff | July 7, 2008 | 8:23 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamene'i said Monday that God had thwarted a plan by Columbia University to embarrass Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he spoke there last week.

Khamene'i made this observation in a lecture to a gathering of Iranian university professors, holding up Ahmadinejad's address at Columbia - in which the Iranian president defended European academics who question the Holocaust and said there were no homosexuals in Iran - as a good model for how to address college students.

"With a strong logic and self-confidence, and self-confidence in the logic, hearts can be won; even hostilities can be reduced or eliminated in many instances," said Khamene'i, according to a BBC translation of his speech. "One good example is the Columbia University which one of the gentlemen referred to."

Khamene'i said he believed Columbia had laid a trap for Ahmadinejad, hoping to capture him in behavior that could be used as "propaganda." This plan was thwarted, said the ayatollah, because "Almighty God made things turn out the opposite."

Iran, in fact, had been "praised and endorsed" because of Ahmadinejad's presentation, the ayatollah said, and he predicted the Iranian president's speech would have a long-term impact on American academia.

"It was clear that they had made plans to humiliate that person and make him angry and then record and use it in their propaganda and political ballyhoo and keep it as a living document," said Khamene'i.

"However, the Almighty God made things turn out the opposite. Thanks to God, the opposite of what they had planned happened - and you saw we were praised and endorsed," he added.

"I believe that this issue will not die down very soon in that country's academic environments and it will continue to be mentioned as a question and topic and people will want to know what happened," said Khamene'i.

"Well, the logic of the Islamic Republic and religion was mentioned there. A good discussion was held on the viewpoints of Islam and religion toward science and the fact that science is a light which is guided by God. These are good discussions," he said.

When Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia on Sept. 24, the university's president, Lee Bollinger, gave him a scorching introduction citing Ahmadinejad's past denials of the Holocaust and noting that he showed "all the signs of a petty and cruel dictator."

Ahmadinejad elicited laughter when he told the Columbia audience: "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country ... I don't know who's told you that we have this."

The ayatollah also said in his lecture to the Iranian college professors that he believed the European academic community is hungering for exposure to Islamic law and theology.