Saturday, February 10, 2018

Iran President Rouhani's Private 2013 Dinner Photos: Louis Farrakhan, Rep. Gregory Meeks

UPDATE: The headline has been updated to remove Rep. Andre Carson who said he was invited to the meeting but did not attend. I have also updated the text below.
    In 2013 when then-newly elected President Hassan Rouhani came to New York to speak to the United Nations General Assembly, he held a private dinner and time of discussion at the One UN Hotel in Manhattan where the Iranian delegation was staying. On Friday, February 9, 2018, the Wall Street Journal published my commentary entitled "Keith Ellison, Louis Farrakhan and Iran," a follow-up to the prior week's "The Dems’ Farrakhan Problem." My new piece revealed that the 2013 event, previously reported as a gathering of US Muslim leaders, including Nation of Islam head Louis Farrakhan, also included Rep. Keith Ellison (M-MN), Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), and Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN).
    In attempting to debunk the story Saturday, the Iranian government Saturday inadvertently confirmed it. The Fars News agency reported that Iranian Vice-President for Communications and Information Parviz Esmayeeli denied that Rouhani meet with the congressman. But the evidence provided by Esmayeeli not only shows that Ellison and Meeks were present, but added the detail that Ellison and Farrakhan sat nearly directly across from one another, facing one another during the event.
    Below are photos from The Final Call (a Nation of Islam publication) and the Islamic House of Wisdom (an Islamic center in Dearborn Heights, Michigan,) as well as photos that appear on the government website of the President of Iran.
    The juxtaposition of these photos from various sources lay to rest the idea that, as Parviz Esmayeeli put it, the 2013 meeting of Rouhani and the congressmen is a "sheer lie." 
    The first three photos below are drawn from the Islamic House of Wisdom site. 

    In this photo, Rouhani can be seen in the top-center and the very back of Louis Farrakhan's head can be seen on the left.

    Here, Farrakhan is seen across the table near the center of the photo, and Rep. Gregory Meeks on the right of the photo with Rouhani visible just above Meeks's head.

    This photo is a little wider shot of the previous photo with Farrakhan still visible across the table and again Rep. Meeks on the right. Rep. Carson does not appear in the photos, only being mentioned as a participant in the text of the Final Call and Islamic House of Wisdom reports on the meeting.

    The remaining photos come from The Final Call.

    This close up of Farrakhan shows his face more clearly along with the two men on either side of him, matching the wider shots in the earlier photos.

    The final two photos, which The Final Call posted as a set, shows Meeks more clearly, and also includes the gentleman to Meeks's right who is captured in the wider-angle photos above. The photo of Ellison does not line up with the previous wider-angle views, but the flowers in the foreground and the blue curtain behind him match the decor from the other photos of the meeting.
    Finally, below are photos from the official website of Iranian President Rouhani. The Fars article reporting the denial the the congressmen attended the dinner included the link to the photos.

    The above photos shows a wide shot of the entire group of attendees at the dinner. The positions of the participants match the photos on The Final Call and Islamic House of Wisdom sites. (This shot also includes a videographer visible on the left suggesting a video record of the meeting may exist.)

    These two photos focus on the front right corner of the room, to the left of President Rouhani. The gentleman with the white hair and beard can also be seen sitting to Ellison's right in the close-up of Ellison that appears at The Final Call. The final photo below is a zoomed clip of the center-right portion of the photo above, and it focuses on the place card on the table to the left of the white haired gentleman.

    The first two letters are unclear, but the rest of the portion of the card that is visible reads "Rep Keit", the remainder having been cut out of the photo. The place card is obviously that of Rep. Keith Ellison, matching his position in the other photos.
    It is unclear at this point who took these photos and whether more than one person was involved. I contacted Askia Muhammad, the photographer who took the picture of then-Senator Barack Obama and Louis Farrakhan that was suppressed for 13 years before being released last month. Muhammad told me, " I did attend two New York dinners on successive years when President Rouhani spoke at the U.N. Minister Farrakhan attended one meeting. I never saw Keith Ellison at either of those events." Muhammad did not say which years he attended. Rouhani has addressed the UN in New York each of the five years he has served as Iran's president (2013-2017.)
    As of Saturday evening, Rep. Meeks is the only congressman to have responded. As I mentioned in the Journal, Meeks's press secretary, when asked if Rep. Meeks wished to respond to my request for details of the meeting replied via email, "We do not. Thanks."
    Now that the Iranian government has weighed in with a risible denial, additional questions must be asked. Why is the Iranian government so anxious to deny meeting with the congressmen in question? Why are the congressmen avoiding questions about the meeting? Was Andre Carson indeed present as The Final Call and the Islamic House of Wisdom reported? What was discussed at the meeting? Is video of the meeting available? Did the congressmen and Louis Farrakhan interact with each other at the meeting?
    Finally, will the Democratic Party finally demand that its members make a clear and public break with a man that even the Southern Poverty Law Center calls a Black Separatist and leader of a group that, in Ellison's own words, spreads "hatred and division, including, anti-Semitism[.]"? Will this be the final straw?