We received the following reply from Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP - email@example.com -, who has defended her Lib Dem colleague, Baroness Nicholson:
"Thank you for your email regarding the remarks of my colleague Baroness Emma Nicholson MEP during a debate on Iran in the European Parliament.
I attach the comments made by Baroness Nicholson for your information, alongside a briefing note containing information Baroness Nicholson referred to when planning her remarks.
Whilst I can understand that you may feel Baroness Nicholson went too far in putting a positive light on the situation in Iran, I cannot in any way give credit to your implication that Baroness Nicholson's remarks were in some way racist, being based on the premise that Iranians are not worthy of a full democracy.
If you have arguments against Baroness Nicholson's views regarding women's rights in Iran, I am certain that she would be keen for you to put them to her. You will find her email address at the bottom of this letter."
And here is our reply to Baroness Ludford:
"Dear Baroness Sarah Ludford,
Thank you for taking time to write to us.
Please see our objections to each one of the statements made by Baroness Nicholson on October 12th 2005, in the European Parliament.
[Baroness Nicholson] - Madam President, it is my view that the Islamic Republic of Iran has much to offer the region and the wider world.
[Our Reply] : Please enlighten us as to what the Islamic Republic - [Not to be confused with the people of Iran or with the Iranian culture] exactly has to offer to the wider world. The Islamic Republic in fact is a sponsor of terrorism and a source of instability in the region.
[Baroness Nicholson] - She practices a more advanced form of democracy than most of her neighbours. Theocracy or no theocracy,
[Our Reply]: As we have said before the analogy to this would be to tell a Chinese dissident that the Chinese regime is not as bad as that of North Korea or the Khmer Rouge.
Iran has its own history and should be compared with herself not with other countries.
[Baroness Nicholson] - women's rights in Iran are far more developed than elsewhere in the region, with education for all and jobs, up to and including the Vice-President of the State, open to all.
The women of Iran have struggled for over 100 years for their freedom and rights. They were the first women in the region to get rid of compulsory veil and gain the right to vote. Any credit for women's rights being far more developed in the region, should be given to the women of Iran and not to the Islamic Republic. In fact the Islamic Republic has reversed many of women's rights in the last 25 years. Prior to the Islamic Republic, women were not stoned to death, women were not flogged, women had much more protected family rights than now, the job restrictions that Baroness Nicholson has so casually mentioned did not exist prior to 1979. Iran had women judges as well as government ministers in the cabinet.
If women's rights is more developed in Iran, it has nothing to do with the Islamic Republic, give the due credit to the women of Iran who are still fighting the religous apartheid in Iran on a daily basis.
[Baroness Nicholson] -With regard to the arts, please come to London to visit the British Museum and see the great Persepolis Exhibition, opened by the Vice-President of Iran last month.
[Our Reply]: Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for damaging and smuggling much of Iran's pre-Islamic heritage. It is unbelievable how anyone can again give credit to the Islamic Republic for what is merely a PR exercise on behalf of the Iranian regime for the outside world and forget all the Iranian artists who were executed, jailed or banned from work because their work was not to the taste of the clerics.
Much of the Forgotten Empire exhibition relics are actually from establishments from outside Iran.
[Baroness Nicholson] -I believe that Iran's reintegration into the international community is long overdue and sorely needed.
[Our Reply] What in your opinion were required from the Islamic Republic for her reintegration into the international community and how have these requirements been accompolished?
[Baroness Nicholson] -The inevitable prerequisite is and must be the essential requirement to resolve the nuclear issue. However, to avoid the accurate potential charge of hypocrisy, it is just as important that the European Union should pursue with equal aggression the policy of nuclear non-proliferation throughout the region. The European Union's single foreign policy demands no less.
[Our Reply] While we are opposed to Nuclear Weapons fullstop, are you aware of the Iranian president's views on judgement day and paving the way for the re-emergence of the hidden Imam?
In view of the above do you not see an urgency with regards to stopping the Islamic Republic from gaining nuclear weapons?
We believe the views of Baroness Nicholson and those Lib Dems who have supported her are racist, because it seems that the standards you would not accept for yourselves you seem to find acceptable for the Iranian people? Do you therefore think you are better than us and is that therefore not racist?
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