The President of Iran: Holocaust denier and anti-Semite
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday that the Holocaust was a myth, ramping up his rhetoric and triggering a fresh wave of international condemnation.
Last week Ahmadinejad first aired his doubts on the veracity of the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed by the Nazis. His comments drew a rebuke from the U.N. Security Council.
"They have fabricated a legend under the name 'Massacre of the Jews', and they hold it higher than God himself, religion itself and the prophets themselves," he told a crowd in the southeastern city of Zahedan on Wednesday.
The speech was broadcast live on state television.
European countries called the remarks unacceptable and said they could undermine plans for talks with Tehran on its controversial nuclear program.
The United States condemned the comments as outrageous while Israel said they showed Iran's "rogue regime" was acting outside acceptable international norms.
Ahmadinejad, a former Revolutionary Guardsman who was elected president in June, said in October Israel must be "wiped off the map," provoking a diplomatic storm and stoking fears about Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Some European countries insist on saying that during World War II, Hitler burned millions of Jews and put them in concentration camps. Any historian, commentator or scientist who doubts that is taken to prison or gets condemned.
Iran's hardline press largely rallied round the president's first Holocaust remarks but the Islamic Iran Participation Front, Iran's leading reformist party, printed a critical statement in the liberal Sharq daily on Wednesday.
"Provocation...and starting this sort of talk, which benefits neither Iranians nor oppressed Palestinians, will only increase consensus on supporting the (Israeli) regime and will unify the approach against Iran," it said.
Holocaust denial derives from anti-Semitism, period, no matter how much Holocaust "revisionists" will try to convince you otherwise. Unfortunately, that particularly virulent form of anti-Semitism now has an influential voice in the president of Iran. Compared to the Iranian president, David Irving is strictly small fry.Unfortunately, it doesn't end with Ahmadinejad, a man with no experience outside Iran, a hick who, Iranian analyst Dr Ali Ansari concedes, is a "monumental embarrassment". For he has given voice to a sentiment that runs deep in Iran and in the wider Muslim world.
Just look at this week's Iranian press. "Many revisionist historians believe the story of the Holocaust is fake and have proved it by much evidence and documents," says the conservative paper Resalat. Hardline Siyasat-e Ruz applauds the leader for "revealing the truth".
It's hardly a surprise. TV stations across the Muslim world have been running this garbage for ages, along with lurid anti-semitism. Jordanian TV's Ramadan special this year was Al-Shatat, a Syrian-produced series that speaks of a "global Jewish government" and depicts the ancient blood libel: the accusation that Jews use the blood of Christian children in preparing food for Passover. That was a follow-up to Egyptian television's Ramadan treat in 2002: Horseman without a Horse, whose central theme was the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the century-old forgery concocted by the Tsarist secret police which alleged a Jewish plot to take over the world.
We can deny it no longer: the virus of anti-semitism has infected the Muslim world. And virus it is, for Jew-hatred on this scale, as Christian Europe can testify, is a kind of sickness. This is one of the grossest legacies bequeathed by the west: that Muslims have taken to heart a form of anti-semitism alien to their own lands, borrowing a language and iconography that was made in Christendom. Blood libels and the Protocols were dreamed up in Norwich, Mainz or Moscow - yet now they breathe anew in Cairo, Riyadh and Damascus.