Iranian government sponsors
a Holocaust denial conference
A Holocaust cartoon competition and conference:
In mid-2006, the government of Iran launched a contest for Nazi Holocaust
cartoons as a reaction to the Danish cartoons which had earlier satirized the
Prophet Muhammad. This was followed up on 2006-DEC-11 by a two-day conference "Review
of the Holocaust: Global View." It was attended by 67 assorted Holocaust
deniers, minimalist Holocaust scholars, and white supremacists from a total of
thirty countries. 1
Ironically, the conference was held during International Human Rights Week,
which renews the pledges of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.
Rasoul Mousavi, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Institute for Political and
International Studies, gave a welcoming speech. He said that the conference
provided an opportunity to discuss the Holocaust "away from Western taboos
and the restriction imposed on them in Europe." The restriction apparently
refers to laws in several European countries that make denial of the Holocaust a
criminal act. It was intended to include participants who affirmed, denied, and
minimized the reality of the Nazi Holocaust. However, the New York Times reported that:
"... none of
the speeches collected in the ministry’s book or any of the exhibitions spoke of
the reality of the Nazi killing. A CD with the stories of 12 Holocaust survivors
was said to be available."
Associated with the conference was an exhibition of photographs showing:
Dead bodies with captions indicating that they were not killed by poison gas.
More pictures of corpses with captions indicating that they died of a typhus epidemic.
Smiling prisoners of the Nazis freed at the end of the war, labeled "Truth."
Contributors to the conference:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad opened the session and thanked God that,
in his opinion, the Zionist regime was
declining. He said "...its lifetime will be over and their
interests as well as reputation will be endangered." According to
the official IRNA news agency, he said that:
"The Zionist regime will be wiped out soon the same way the Soviet
Union was, and humanity will achieve freedom."
He called for elections
"Jews, Christians and Muslims so the population of Palestine can
select their government and destiny for themselves in a democratic
He referred to the Holocaust as a "myth" several times during his
Georges Theil of France said:
"Ahmadinejad's Holocaust comment opened a new
window in international relations on this issue. Twenty years ago, it
was not possible to talk about [the] Holocaust and any scientific study
was subject to punishment. This taboo has been broken, thanks to Mr.
Theil maintains that the Nazis never used poison gas against Jews. He was
convicted earlier in 2006 for "contesting the truth of crimes against
David Duke, a former Louisiana Republican state representative elected in
1989, former Imperial Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, 2 and author of a propaganda novel
titled "Jewish Supremacism: My awakening to the Jewish Question,"
3 denied the
existence of the gas chambers that the Nazis used to exterminate millions of
Jews, Roma, and others. Duke said that:
"Depicting Jews as the overwhelming victims of the Holocaust gave the
moral high ground to the Allies as victors of the war and allowed Jews
to establish a state on the occupied land of Palestine."
Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, a former interior
minister and one of the founders of the Lebanese militia Hezbollah said:
"All the studies and research carried out so far have proven that
there is no reason to believe that the Holocaust ever occurred and that
it is only a tale."
Historian Wolfgang Froehlich from Austria handed out reprints of his paper to attendees. He has already served a two-year
jail sentence for denying the Holocaust, and did not want to risk reading it out
Nabil Soleiman, an adviser to the ministry of religious affairs in Syria, said:
"If the Holocaust ever occurred, it was a
conspiracy against the Arab-Islamic world as today the Middle East is
still paying the consequences."
Rabbi Moshe David Weiss of the group Jews United Against Zionism,
an anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Jewish sect presented a paper. His group
believes that the creation of the state of Israel violated Jewish religious
law. He said:
"We don't want to deny the killing of Jews in World War II, but
Zionists have given much higher figures for how many people were killed.
They have used the Holocaust as a device to justify their oppression. 4
Comments during the conference:
Haround Yashayai, head of the Iranian Jewish community said: "We
consider the Holocaust as a fact and a disgrace for humanity."
During an interview with the Associated Press, David Duke said that:
"This conference has an incredible impact on Holocaust studies all over
the world. The Holocaust is the device used as the pillar of Zionist
imperialism, Zionist aggression, Zionist terror and Zionist murder." 4
Bendikt Frings, 48, a German psychologist described Mr. Ahmadinejad as
"... an honest, direct man. ... We are forbidden to have such a
conference in Germany. All my childhood, we waited for something like
Frederick Toben, from Australia, said Mr. Ahmadinejad had opened an
"which is morally and intellectually crippling the Western society.
... People are imprisoned in Germany for denying the Holocaust."
He said that:
''The number of victims at the Auschwitz
concentration camp could be about 2,007.''
It is unclear whether he meant this number to be
per day, per shift or per hour. He continued:
''The railroad to the camp did not have enough
capacity to transfer large numbers of Jews."
jailed for six months in 1999 for his ideas on the Holocaust.
Six members of anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Jewish sects -- Jews United
Against Zionism and Neturei Karta (Guardians of the City) -- were in attendance.
One wore a badge saying: "A Jew, not a Zionist."
Reactions to the conference:
The German government expressed the country's anger to the Iranian
chargé d’affaires .
Philippe Douste-Blazy, the foreign minister of France, condemned the
Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the UK said that the conference was "shocking
beyond belief." He called it "a symbol of sectarianism and hatred.
... I look around the region at the moment, and
everything Iran is doing is negative."
The White House described the conference as: "an
affront to the entire civilized world as well as to the traditional Iranian
values of tolerance and respect." Press Secretary Tony Snow wrote in a
"The Iranian regime perversely seeks to call the historical fact of
those atrocities into question and provide a platform for hatred."
Mohammad Ali Ramini, an Ahmadinejad adviser who has
called the Holocaust a "myth," said that he will head a committee to find "the
truth on the genocide of Jews." He will be joined by a number of Holocaust
deniers including Robert Fuerisson, from France and other deniers from
Austria, Bahrain, Canada, Syria, Switzerland, and the U.S. There are apparently
no Holocaust affirmers allowed on the committee. 5
Visit by Muslims to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum:
Muslims from the Washington DC area gathered on 2006-DEC-20 at the U.S.
Holocaust Memorial Museum to honor the memory of Jews who were murdered
during the Nazi Holocaust. Present were American University professor
Akbar Ahmed, museum director Sara Bloomfield, three Holocaust survivors, and
representatives from the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS), the
Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR), the Muslim Public Affairs Council,
and the Arab American Institute.
Imam Mohamed Magid of ADAMS in Sterling, VA said that Muslims "have to learn
from the lessons of history and to commit ourselves, never again." With an
obvious reference to the conference of Holocaust deniers and minimalists, he said:
"No Muslim anywhere has the right to turn Holocaust denial into an
Islamic cause. I applaud the Jewish community for making sure humanity never
forgets how the Nazis murdered Jews, gypsies and disabled people, including
more than 1 million children. They set an example for the rest of us on how
to make people more aware of horrors like the genocide in Rwanda and
Museum director Sara Bloomfield said she was proud to be standing with her
Muslim friends at an institution devoted to history and committed to confronting
hatred. Ahmed agreed, but also emphasized that "hate is not only about hating
Jews or anti-Semitism, but also about Islamophobia, the hatred of Islam."
CAIR's executive director, Nihad Awad, said that "misguided people"
are wrong to question whether the Holocaust took place. He said:
suffering of any people contradicts Islamic teachings and the actions of the
prophet Muhammad. It's a red line that no one should cross."
Holocaust survivor Halina Peabody, 74, of Bethesda said she was:
"overwhelmed with happiness. ... This makes me believe there are moderate
Muslims, but I keep wondering if they are living under a cloud and are in
danger of being assassinated." 6
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