Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is back in town for the United Nation General Assembly, and in a CNN interview on Monday he previewed some of his controversial remarks. Piers Morgan asked Iran's president about "the big catalyst for protest at the moment in the Middle East," the infamous fourteen-minute anti-Islam "movie" Innocence of Muslims. "Fundamentally, first of all, any action that is provocative, offends the religious thoughts and feelings of any people, we condemn," Ahmadinejad said through a translator. "Likewise, we condemn any type of extremism."
Of course, what took place was ugly. Offending the Holy Prophet is quite ugly. This has very little or nothing to do with freedom and freedom of speech. This is the weakness of and the abuse of freedom, and in many places it is a crime. It shouldn't take place, and I do hope the day will come in which politicians will not seek to offend those whom others hold holy.
He added that the matter must be resolved in a humane atmosphere and he regrets the bloodshed. Morgan also asked about the lives lost on 9/11 and Ahmadinejad's previous statement that the American government bears partial responsibility for the events. He responded in part by blaming members of the U.S. armed forces for extremism in the Middle East:
We are incredibly saddened that over 3,000 people were killed in the U.S. The Iranian government immediately condemned those brutal attacks. We're against even the killing of one individual. Why should human lives be taken, innocent humans, anywhere in the world? But, in order to avenge the blood of 3,000 people, one million people shouldn't give their lives. Some of the behaviors of the United States in our region encourages extremism, perhaps because they don't know the people. So they do need to reform their behavior.
But on to the moment everyone was waiting for: How would Ahmadinejad respond to Morgan's question on Iran's ban on single Iranian women skiing?
Ahmadinejad: For a single lady to go on a trip to go skiing? Is that forbidden in Iran? Who has told you that?
Morgan: It's not forbidden?
Ahmadinejad: I'm hearing it from you!
Morgan: It has been widely reported that you have brought in a rule that single women cannot go skiing. Are you now telling me they can?
Ahmadinejad: I'm hearing it from you sir for the very first time!
Hopefully after the interview Morgan had a chance to fill him in on some other troubling things happening in his country.