Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ahmadinejad under Fire over Holocaust Denial

From Khaleejtimes.

Hat tip:
Normblog.

TEHERAN - Iran’s former reformist president Mohammad Khatami has described the Holocaust as a “historical reality” -- a stinging attack on his controversial and revisionist successor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.


“We should speak out if even a single Jew is killed. Don’t forget that one of the crimes of Hitler, Nazism and German national socialism was the massacre of innocent people, among them many Jews,” the cleric said in comments carried in the Iranian press on Wednesday.

The Holocaust, he asserted, should be recognised “even if this historical reality has been misused and there is enormous pressure on the Palestinian people.”

Ahmadinejad has caused international outrage by insisting the Holocaust -- the killing of an estimated six million Jews by the Nazis and their allies during World War II in death camps and elsewhere -- was a myth used to justify the creation of Israel.

He has also said the Jewish state “must be wiped off the map” or moved as far away as Alaska -- comments that have provoked anger in the West and even condemnation from the UN Security Council.

Ahmadinejad’s violent rhetoric has also served to increase tensions over Iran’s atomic energy drive, seen in the West as a mask for weapons development.

Khatami served as Iran’s president from 1997 to 2005, and attempted to open up Iran to the West and initiate a “dialogue among civilisations” -- in stark contrast to the ultra-conservative agenda of Ahmadinejad.

The mild-mannered former president, who has shied away from the political limelight since leaving office, also asserted Muslims were not out to persecute Jews.

“The persecution of Jews, just like Nazism, is a Western phenomenon. In the east, we have always lived side by side with them. And we follow a religion that states that the death of an innocent person is the death of all of humanity,” Khatami said.

He also argued that it was of little importance “whether the number killed (during the Holocaust) was high or not” -- but at the same time went on to accuse Israel’s leaders as being “victims of fascism and practising fascist policies today”.

Ahmadinejad also came under attack from the prominent and centrist Shargh newspaper, which complained that “the Holocaust has, as wished for by the president, become a topic of our foreign policy”.

“The Jewish question was never a problem for Iran or Islam, and is a Christian-European problem,” the paper argued.

“Don’t we have enough with the nuclear question, human rights, free elections and political in-fighting, so do we need to add another problem to that?” it said, saying Iran would be better off ”thinking of the creation of a Palestinian state rather than the destruction of Israel”. [my emphasis]

But an editorial in the ultra-hardline Kayhan newspaper, a firm supporter of Ahmadinejad, continued to champion Holocaust revisionism.

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