It’s a Date: Ahmadinejad to Dine With ‘Enthusiastic’ Columbia University Students

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is, once again, making headlines. On Monday, NBC’s “Today Show” aired a “behind the scenes” interview with the Middle Eastern despot. Then, on Tuesday morning, during a dialogue with “Today,” he announced that Iran will likely release two American hikers in the coming days.

Now, on the heels of these media mentions, reports indicate that Ahmadinejad will be dining with a group of Columbia University students later this month. According to, the dinner will take place when the Iranian leader comes to New York City for the United Nations General Assembly:

The dinner, which is apparently set for September 21, will include 15 members of the Columbia International Relations Council and Association (CIRCA) and Columbia President Lee Bollinger. Tim Chan, the Vice President of CIRCA, says he hasn’t received any complaints about the event and that all of the attending members are “enthusiastic” about the dinner.

Reports of the dinner, which Chan is calling “tentative,” first appeared in the Columbia Spectator. In describing how the plans came about, there seems to be a bit of confusion. Leah Greenbaum of the Spectator writes:

A version of this article that appeared online over the weekend stated that CIRCA vice president of academics, Tim Chan, CC ’14, said someone in the group has a close relationship with the Iranian ambassador. After the article was published online Chan told Spectator he was mistaken and that there is no one in group with a close relationship to the ambassador.

Regardless of how the dinner came to be, the intimate event could get somewhat awkward considering the fact that Bollinger called Ahmadinejad “a petty and cruel dictator” when he introduced him at a controversial campus appearance back in 2007. As a result, Ahmadinejad didn’t take too kindly to what he saw as “insults” and “unfriendly treatment.”

It was during this event that the Iranian leader once again questioned the legitimacy of the Holocaust. Additionally, he openly wondered whether al-Qaeda was actually responsible for the September 11 attacks and claimed that there are no gay people in Iran (a notion that was widely regarded as absurd).

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, he stated his belief that the U.S. coordinated the event as an excuse to launch wars in the Middle East.