Iranian President to Host Private, Invite-Only Powwow for Influencers in NYC

Raisi’s American tour prompts backlash from U.S leaders and Iranian dissidents

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi (Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)
September 13, 2023

Iran’s president is slated to host a private, invitation-only event with political influencers in New York City next week on the sidelines of the United Nations’ annual gathering, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi is scheduled to hold "an off the record meeting" with high-profile political insiders and analysts on Monday afternoon at the Millennium Hilton Hotel, near the U.N. headquarters in downtown New York City. An invitation to the event, obtained by the Free Beacon, was sent out last week by Iran’s permanent representative to the U.N., ahead of Raisi’s arrival in the United States.

It is one of at least three private events Raisi is scheduled to host while he is in the United States to attend the U.N General Assembly, the weeklong annual gathering of world leaders. In addition to Monday afternoon’s private powwow, Raisi will host an "interfaith dialogue" on Monday morning. On Tuesday, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) think tank is scheduled to host a separate meeting with Raisi.

Details about the event, and who will attend, are not made clear in the invitation. Iran’s mission to the U.N., which is listed as a contact on the invite, did not respond to a Free Beacon email requesting further details.

Raisi’s efforts to meet with American influencers and policymakers during his stay in the United States has prompted anger among Iranian dissidents and some former U.S. officials who say that any meeting with Iran’s leader provides his hardline regime with legitimacy.

"Americans who accept the regime's invitation to meet with Raisi are not only whitewashing the regime's atrocities, but are complicit in making the regime believe they will not suffer reputational and diplomatic costs for massacring protesters last fall," said Gabriel Noronha, a former State Department Iran adviser.

"President Raisi is a U.S. sanctioned mass-murdering zealot who tortured pregnant women in Iranian jails and whose government continues to execute, imprison, and torture Iranian dissidents in secret jails," Noronha added. "He is not interested in ‘interfaith dialogues’ with the West, he is interested in its destruction."

The CFR event has generated particular outrage given the think tank's status as one of D.C.’s premier foreign policy hubs.

"Hosting Iranian president Raisi, the Butcher of Tehran—who was responsible for the murder of 1000s of Iranian innocents—is immoral and indecent," former secretary of state Mike Pompeo, who is the subject of active assassination plots by Iran’s regime, told the Free Beacon. "Not only has he, personally, terrorized his own citizens, he will, from New York City, espouse his continuing efforts to destroy Israel and kill Americans including former government officials."

The Monday morning "interfaith dialogue" also drew backlash on Twitter from Iranian dissidents who slammed Raisi’s government for its persecution of those with differing faiths, including Iran’s Baha’i population.

"The Judiciary in Iran announced it has closed down 12 schools and educational centers and made several arrests in the northern Iranian city of Babol on charges of ‘promoting’ the Baha'i faith," Nazenin Ansari, an Iranian journalist, wrote Monday on X, along with a screenshot of the invitation.

Raisi and his government also routinely disseminate anti-Semitic propaganda and call for the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state.

Republicans in Congress moved on Tuesday to bar Raisi from entering the United States.