Activists stage mock-hanging in Germany to pr
Activists stage mock-hanging in Germany to prReuters

Counter-extremism and pro-Israel groups are protesting the first ever London-based conference to encourage European states to trade with Iran following the easing of sanctions.

Several grassroots and communal organisations published a joint letter urging prominent business people to withdraw from the two-day Europe Iran Forum this week. Some 200 business leaders are currently expected to attend, and keynote speakers at the event will include former British foreign secretary Jack Straw, France’s former foreign minister Hubert Vedrine and WPP advertising chief Sir Martin Sorrell.

Iran and the P5+1 powers reached an interim deal last year to reduce sanctions, in exchange for Iran curbing its uranium enrichment, but a November 24th meeting could see a permanent and much more comprehensive deal to lift sanctions for limited concessions by Tehran.

In a letter addressed to Sir Martin Sorrell, who is Jewish, the organizations called on him to “rethink” his attendance. It cites rampant human rights abuses, support for terrorism and anti-Semitism by the Islamic Republic as reasons to withdraw from the event.

"We struggle to understand why you would speak of trade with one of the world’s most violent and theocratic regimes, with a long history of anti-Semitism," the letter reads.

The call is endorsed by the Zionist Federation, and grassroots groups NILI14, the Israeli Forum Task Force and UK Friends of Israel. The letter is also signed by counter-extremism thinktank Stand for Peace.

The organisations have also written to other conference speakers urging them to pull out, and will hand out leaflets at the event, which will take place on 15-16 October.

"For the past nine years, Iran has consistently denied access to weapons inspectors wishing to examine its nuclear facilities," said Zionist Federation chairman Paul Charney. "Although some sanctions may be lifted on November 24th, it is far too premature to discuss business with Iran, let alone attend a conference sponsored by a state which also sponsors global terror."

Although Iran claims that its nuclear capabilities are for domestic use only, fears it has been hiding a secret nuclear weapons program were heightened once again recently, after a mysterious blast struck the Parchin nuclear facility, where intelligence agencies have long suspected Iran of testing nuclear weapons.

Iran is also reportedly responsible for scores of terror attacks in 24 countries - from Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syria, scores of Shia militias in Iraq and Syria, and Houthi rebels in Yemen. Iranian-manufactured IEDs are also believed to have killed hundreds of western troops in Afghanistan.

"Public executions, hangings using a crane as gallows, mass floggings and stonings are all rife in Iran," said Tamir Milo of the Israeli Forum Task Force. "Its abuse of human rights against gays, women, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, other 'dissidents' and 'spies' is truly shocking. It’s inconceivable that any civilized nation would even think of doing business with such a state."

Highlighting fears the trade conference could see private businessmen breaking still-extant sanctions on Iran, the US Embassy in London warned delegates this week that "anyone violating the sanctions against Iran will face severe penalties."

But activists warn that easing the pressure on the global terror-sponsor was nothing short of appeasement.

"2014 will be remembered as the year in which Iran became a nuclear power," said Sharon Klaff of NILI14. "Everybody is talking about how to make business with Iran and nobody is talking about the imminent existential threat Iran poses to mankind.