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Religious Tolerance logo

Nazi holocaust

Iranian government sponsors
a Holocaust denial conference

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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:

bulletDead bodies with captions indicating that they were not killed by poison gas.
bulletMore pictures of corpses with captions indicating that they died of a typhus epidemic.
bulletSmiling prisoners of the Nazis freed at the end of the war, labeled "Truth."

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Contributors to the conference:

bulletIranian 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 among:

"Jews, Christians and Muslims so the population of Palestine can select their government and destiny for themselves in a democratic manner."

He referred to the Holocaust as a "myth" several times during his speech.

bulletGeorges 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. Ahmadinejad's initiative."

Theil maintains that the Nazis never used poison gas against Jews. He was convicted earlier in 2006 for "contesting the truth of crimes against humanity."

bulletDavid 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."

bulletAli 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."

bulletHistorian 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 loud.
bulletNabil 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."

bulletRabbi 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

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Sponsored link:

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Comments during the conference:

bulletHaround Yashayai, head of the Iranian Jewish community said: "We consider the Holocaust as a fact and a disgrace for humanity."
bulletDuring 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

bulletBendikt 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 this."

bulletFrederick Toben, from Australia, said Mr. Ahmadinejad had opened an issue

"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."

Toben was jailed for six months in 1999 for his ideas on the Holocaust.

bulletSix 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."

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Reactions to the conference:

bulletThe German government expressed the country's anger to the Iranian chargé d’affaires .
bulletPhilippe Douste-Blazy, the foreign minister of France, condemned the conference.
bulletTony 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."
bulletThe 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 statement:

"The Iranian regime perversely seeks to call the historical fact of those atrocities into question and provide a platform for hatred."

bulletMohammad 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

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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 slavery."

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:

"Belittling the 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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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. Nazila Fathi, "Iran Opens Conference on Holocaust," New York Times, 2006-DEC-12, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  2. "David Duke," Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  3. David Duke, "Jewish Supremacism: My Awakening to the Jewish Question," Free Speech Press, (2003). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store.
  4. "Iran: Israel will be 'wiped out'." CNN.com, 2006-DEC-12, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  5. "KKK's David Duke Tells Iran Holocaust Conference That Gas Chambers Not Used to Kill Jews," Fox News, 2006-DEC-13, at: http://www.foxnews.com/
  6. Andrea Barron, "Imam: Holocaust denial cannot be Islamic cause. Local Muslims visit Holocaust museum," Washington Jewish Week, 2006-DEC-29, at: http://www.washingtonjewishweek.com

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Copyright © 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting 2006-DEC-29
Last update: 2006-DEC-29
Author: B. A. Robinson

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