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Berlin Senate finances event with representatives of the Iranian regime

The organizers promised a “diverse and intercultural stage programme”.

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Berlin Senate finances event with representatives of the Iranian regime

The organizers promised a “diverse and intercultural stage programme”. "Artists from different cultures" should "explore the theme of roses both musically and literary", it said in the invitation to the "Rosenfest am Rosenanger" in Berlin-Frohnau. A flamenco dancer performed, as did an Uzbek folk group, and home-made cakes were served. The Berlin Senate Department for Culture and Europe sponsored the event, which took place on September 3rd and 10th, with 10,229 euros.

In addition to the Senate Culture Administration, other cooperation partners can be seen on the flyer. Among them is the Iranian cultural representation and the Iran House Berlin. These form the cultural department of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. According to the flyer for the event, a representative of the Iran House, Yakup Kilic, moderated the program. And Hamid Mohammadi, the cultural council of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Germany, read "Poems from the Rose Garden" as part of the official program.

The Iranian embassy and the Iranian cultural representation represent a regime that promotes terrorism in the Middle East, brutally oppresses its own population, especially women, religious, ethnic and sexual minorities as well as members of the opposition, and threatens Israel with annihilation. The state of Berlin, on the other hand, sells itself as a cosmopolitan and diverse “rainbow capital”.

There was no direct collaboration at the “Rose Festival”. Nevertheless, it is worth taking a closer look at the event, which was co-financed from public funds by the Berlin Senate.

For example, there is a performance by moderator Yakup Kilic on YouTube that was announced on the homepage of Iran's official international radio network as a "song on the martyrdom of General Qassem Soleimani". "We said goodbye to a hero, he had a heart full of faith," says the German translation of the song. As a reminder, Soleimani was primarily responsible for Iran's aggressive foreign policy and thus also the mastermind behind Iranian support for Islamist terrorism.

Kilic regularly moderates for the Iran-Haus, for example a lecture with the operator of the Islamist website Muslim-Markt, Yavuz Özoğuz.

In October 2020, Hamid Mohammadi, Iranian Councilor for Culture and thus head of the Iran House, shared a contribution by Iran's "Supreme Leader", Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in which he questioned the criminal liability of Holocaust denial. On Instagram, Iran House promotes the anti-Semitic Al-Quds Day, which calls for the annihilation of Israel.

The organizer of the Rose Festival, which received funding from the Berlin Senate Cultural Administration, was the Culture Cooperation association. He responded to the simple question about the amount of funding from the Iranian cultural representation with a complaint to the WELT editor-in-chief. In view of the request, one was "alienated by the factless, tendentious (sic), unprofessional and dubious-looking approach on the verge of xenophobia".

The event also commemorated the Jewish horticultural architect Ludwig Lesser, who had to flee Germany during the Nazi era. "Not a cent was paid by the Iranian cultural representation," said Kathleen Göbel from Culture Cooperation in the letter. Göbel moderated the festival together with Kilic.

When asked by WELT, a spokesman for the Senate Cultural Administration said that “other cooperation partners and/or performing artists” had not been named in the application for funding. It is common for projects to go into detailed planning only after funding has been approved. The moderation by Yakup Kilic was not mentioned when the application was submitted. In terms of content, the focus of the application was on the rose, whose meaning in different countries should be artistically illuminated.

"The position of the culture senator and the administration is very clear - we categorically reject anti-Semitism in any form, any form of anti-Semitism finds our resolute resistance," the spokesman continued. When asked whether the event would have been sponsored had it been known about the involvement of the Iranian embassy's cultural department and relevant people, he said, "Of course not."

In fact, as state chairman of the Berlin Left Party, culture senator Klaus Lederer was already known for taking a clear stance on this issue, including on Israel-related anti-Semitism in parts of his party. Lederer recently described calls by the anti-Israel boycott movement BDS against the Berlin Festival Pop-Kultur as “disgusting”.

"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or directly via RSS feed.

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