Iran: Official Sanction Of Holocaust Conference Distresses Many
Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki addressed the participants, saying that Iran intends neither to confirm nor deny the Holocaust. Drawing an implicit comparison with Western countries in which denying the Holocaust is a crime, Mottaki said the gathering provides a platform for open discussion of the topic and questioned a Europe "which claims to be free."
Iranian officials' assault on one of the most thoroughly documented campaigns of mass murder in history appears aimed at undermining the legitimacy of Israel and focusing attention on the Palestinian exodus.
Mottaki today challenged claimants that the Holocaust occurred to explain "why Palestinians should be made to pay for the crimes of the Nazis."
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev noted that such an approach flies in the face of international awareness and sensitivity to the tragedy.
"Unfortunately, the regime in Tehran has decided to give official sanction, official endorsement, to Holocaust denial," Regev said. "It was only last year that the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for an international day of remembrance and commemoration to the victims of the Holocaust and that resolution specifically condemned Holocaust denial."
The forum is organized by the Foreign Ministry's Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), which calls it a scientific forum to assess the magnitude of the Holocaust.
The conference was initiated by Iran's president, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, who has called the Holocaust "a myth."
Iran does not recognize the state of Israel, and Ahmadinejad has suggested that the Holocaust was invented to justify Israel's existence in the Middle East. He has also called for Israel to be "wiped from the map."
Municipal and national officials in Iran indirectly sponsored a recent cartoon contest on the Holocaust that was also condemned by many in the international community.
Reports claim that the participants will include a French professor who denies the existence of the gas chambers, Robert Faurisson; Austrian Holocaust revisionist Frederick Toeben; and a white supremacist and former Klu Klux Klan leader who once represented the southern U.S. state of Louisiana, David Duke.
Iranian media report that about 60 researchers from 30 countries will deliver speeches with titles like "Holocaust, Figures, Statistics, And Realities," "Historical Documents On The Holocaust," and "Nazism, Holocaust, And The Zionists."
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