Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at Columbia University

by Michelle Franzen
NBC News

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to Columbia University promised to be a heated debate focusing on Ahmadinejad's beliefs and politics.

The hour long session delivered a firestorm.
Ahmadinejad was confronted by Columbia University faculty and students on Iran's connection to state sponsored terrorism, his country's nuclear program, and his stated belief the Holocaust is a myth.

"You are either brazenly provocative or uneducated," said Columbia University President Lee Bollinger during his opening statement.
"The text read was an insult to information, and an insult to information, and to the audience here," Ahmadinejad responded.

During the question and answer session, Ahmadinejad denied supporting terrorism.

"We are a cultured nation, we don't need to resort to terrorism," he said.

Outside Columbia hundreds lined the streets to protest a leader who calls for the destruction of Israel, and is accused of human rights violations in his own country.

"I'm outraged that a man like him is given the honor at speaking at Columbia," said protester Esther Lifshitz.
Ahmadinejad's appearance at Columbia is a side stop on his visit to speak at the United Nations General Assembly.

There he will try to convince the international world, including the U-S, that his nuclear program is to create energy and not nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad also wanted to visit Ground Zero, a request flatly denied by the New York Police Department due to security and safety issues.

The Iranian president will address world leaders Tuesday afternoon following President Bush's speech earlier in the morning.