More Than 2,000 Requests Received for Ahmadinejad-Bollinger Related Masks for Purim

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More than 2,000 people have requested Purim masks depicting Iranian Dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and others involved in his speech last September 24 on the campus of Columbia University. Bnai Haman, which plans a Purim Ball on March 20 featuring modern Purim masks, says it has received requests from as far away as India, Japan and Kazakhstan.

People from as far away as the Republic of Kazakhstan have written or called Bnai Haman seeking to obtain masks for this year's Purim celebration.

The requests began pouring in on February 19, when Bnai Haman, a not-for-profit volunteer group of Columbia University alumni and concerned citizens, announced that it is planning an Ahmadinejad-themed Purim party to mark the September 24, 2007 speech by Iranian Dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on campus.

At modern Purim carnivals, it is customary for children and adults alike to dress up as characters from the biblical book of Esther. Purim commemorates the reversal of fortune for the Jews of 6th Century Persia, who were facing extermination at the hands of evil Haman, a trusted adviser to the King. Thanks to the intervention of Queen Esther and her cousin, Mordecai, the King protected the Jews and instead hung Haman on the gallows he, himself, had constructed to kill Jews.

Last month, Bnai Haman said at its 2008 Purim Ball, to be held the evening of March 20, 2008, revelers will have the opportunity to dress like the biblical Purim figures or to wear masks representing those Columbia University officials most closely involved in the Ahmadinejad speech. Like Haman of ancient times, Ahmadinejad has publicly called for Israel to be wiped off the map.

"No one was more surprised than us when the requests started arriving, because we aren't selling or giving away masks," says a spokeswoman for Bnai Haman. "Our members are making their own masks for their own personal use."

Among the most requested masks are those of Columbia University's President, Lee C. Bollinger, who introduced Ahmadinejad last September, and Richard W. Bulliet, the Columbia professor who first invited the dictator to campus. Many requests have also been received for Ahmadinejad masks.

Bnai Haman said about 80 percent of its 2,000-plus requests have come from the United States; 10 percent from Israel and the remainder from countries throughout the world, including Australia, India and Japan.

"The Ahmadinejad-Bollinger speech was broadcast around the globe and its lasting impact can't be overstated," the Bnai Haman spokeswoman said. "The fact that individuals in the former Soviet East Block want to share in our Purim festivities demonstrates that the fight against evil knows no boundaries."

Bnai Haman works to remind the world of the lessons learned by the Ahmadinejad-Bollinger speech and to forewarn other universities and academics about the price to be paid for permitting dictators, terrorists and other villains to use their institutions as a platform for promoting hate speech.

The group maintains various information websites, including

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Rachel Smith-Bard

Jed Christianson
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