Says he would have no problem with one of his children "marrying a Jew"
Brace yourself: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad isn't fond of "Innocence of Muslims," and doesn't have the most progressive views on homosexuality.
In an interview for Monday's "Piers Morgan Tonight," the holocaust-denying leader discussed a wide range of issues, including the anti-Muslim film, Israel and his country's brutal treatment of homosexuals. He also made the surprising statement that he would have no objection to one of his children marrying a Jew.
Asked about violent protests over the film, he said Iran condemns "any action that is provocative, offends the religious thoughts and feelings of any people."
"Likewise, we condemn any type of extremism. Of course, what took place was ugly. Offending the Holy Prophet is quite ugly. This has very little or nothing to do with freedom and freedom of speech. This is the weakness of and the abuse of freedom, and in many places it is a crime. It shouldn't take place, and I do hope the day will come in which politicians will not seek to offend those whom others hold holy," Ahmadinejad said.
"We also believe that this must also be resolved in a humane atmosphere, in a participatory environment, and we do not like anyone losing their lives or being killed for any reason, anywhere in the world."
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens was one of four Americans killed during one of the protests, although the U.S. is investigating whether he may have been assassinated to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
"Perhaps if the politicians take a better position in the West vis-a-vis offensive words or thoughts or pictures toward what we hold holy, I think conditions will improve," Ahmadinejad said.
Asked how Iran would respond to an Israeli attack, he replied, "Any nation has the right and will indeed defend herself."
Morgan pressed him on the harsh punishments for homosexuality in his country, where three men were reportedly executed last year for sodomy.
"Shouldn’t freedom and individuality and all those things also extend to people who just happen to be gay? Who were born gay. They weren’t made gay," Morgan asked. He added: "Wouldn’t it be great for the president of Iran to say you know something, everyone’s entitled to be whatever sexuality they are born to be? That would be a great symbol of freedom."
"Do you really believe that someone is born homosexual?" replied Ahmadinejad. "I’m sorry. Let me ask you this. Do you believe that anyone is giving birth through homosexuality? Homosexuality ceases procreation. Who has said that if you like or believe in doing something ugly, and others do not accept your behavior, that they’re denying your freedom?"
The full interview airs at 9/8c. Here's an excerpt: