Freedom of Speech on the March
The invited speakers were Mohammed al-Kubaisi, member of the Iraqi Committe of Ulema, Hassan al-Zangani, spokesman for Moqtada al Sadr, Salah al Mukhtar, former Baath Party member, Jawad al-Khalesi, Chairman of the Iraqi National Congress and Awni al-Kalemji, spokesman for the Patriotic Alliance of Iraq.
The decision to deny the visas was thanks to forty members of the United States Congress who delivered a letter to the Italian Embassy in Washington last week demanding that the visas not be issued:
[These] members of the Iraqi opposition will attempt to seek financial backing for terrorist activities.Meanwhile, the matter is being brought before Italian parliament. MPs Elettra Deiana and Giovanni Russo Spena will put the issue on the agenda for debate: If the visas were denied due to US pressure, then it will become a matter of unacceptable interference with our national sovereignty.
La Farnesina issues a plausible denial: We have received visa requests from several Iraqi personalities linked to the pro-Saddam insurgency. Our decision to grant the visas will based on our obligations under the Schengen agreement, said Foreign Minister Gian-Franco Fini. We will not rely input from American Embassy.
Nice evasion. Shorter Fini: We did it to save our European partners from the swarthy terrorists from Iraq. And there was no pressure from the US Embassy in Rome.
Well of course not. The visa denial relied on input from the representatives of the Home of the Free: the United States Congress.