Criticism of Tehran Holocaust Denial Conference in Arab and Iranian Media, MEMRI, Dispatch-Iran/Antisemitism Documentation Project, January 16, 2007

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Following the December 11-12, 2006 Holocaust denial conference in Tehran, Arab columnists condemned the conference’s organizers and participants, calling them hate-mongers who spread propaganda and “criminals, enemies of freedom, and distorters of historical fact.” The columnists challenged the claim that the conference was an academic research symposium, arguing that, from a moral point of view, it reflected a lack of human and cultural sensitivity, and that it could lead to conflict around the world. They also disputed Iran’s argument that the conference gave Western participants an opportunity to express their views freely, pointing to the lack of freedom of speech in Iran and to the link between the conference and Iran’s threats to annihilate the state of Israel.

In Iran, the Baztab website, which is affiliated with Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezai, published an editorial on December 19, 2006 criticizing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial.

The following are excerpts from the articles:

The Conference Was Not Academic; It Harmed Iran and the Muslims

British Arab journalist ‘Adel Darwish wrote in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: “The extremist Iranian president [Ahmadinejad] may have gained some points [in terms of] vocal propaganda in the hate[-mongering] satellite channels, but diplomatically, he only caused damage to his country, which is [going through] a difficult period in [terms of] its foreign [relations]. He also caused severe damage to the Muslims by creating a political-cultural climate in which feelings of hate drown out the Muslims’ noble and humane sentiments.

“Ahmadinejad and his ideological followers are misleading themselves and the media when they say that the [Holocaust denial] conference was held for [purposes of] historical research, and that it put to the test the West’s receptiveness to free speech and [free] academic research… Those evil and despicable figures… who were invited to the conference, and who prevented the Palestinian attorney Khaled Mahamid from participating in it(1) – are they historians?… [Among the participants] were six Jews – British Orthodox rabbis – but they are not historians, nor do they deny the historical [truth] of the Holocaust – they [merely] oppose the [existence of] a Jewish state before the coming of the Messiah. Ahmadinejad is using them as a fig-leaf to cover up his moral shame, since he wants to ‘wipe Israel off the map.’

“There are political activists who refuse to [accept] the Jewish Holocaust as justification for harming the Palestinians and denying [their right to have] an independent state like all other nations – but they, too, [express this position] as political activists and not [in the guise of] researchers or historians.

“I will conclude by posing the question that was posed to all Muslims by the Iranian Muhammad Khaled:(2) “How does it threaten you to recognize the historical truth of the Holocaust?”(3)

The Conference Was Aimed at Spreading Hatred and Propaganda, and Defending Heinous Crimes

Saudi journalist Yousef Al-Sweidan wrote in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa: “The new extremist Nazis in turbans were not ashamed to open that wretched conference in Tehran on December 11, 2006 [with the intent] of spreading hate and tendentious propaganda and defending the heinous crimes of the Nazis…

“Manuchehr Mottaki’s strange statements were ludicrous and repulsive. He characterized this racist conference as ‘a [platform] for scholars who are not able to express their views in Europe.’ This shows that this conference is, in fact, a gathering of criminals, enemies of freedom, and distorters of historical fact. For Tehran, as everyone knows, is not [exactly] an oasis of freedom, democracy, and cultural and ideological pluralism. The opposite is true, and that is why the Iranian embassy refused to issue a visa to attorney and human rights activist Khaled Kassab Mahamid, [thus preventing him] from attending the symposium of the new Nazis and their clerics, and [from] expressing his views and condemning the criminal goals of those who organized this conference of extremism and hate.

“The timing, goals, and topics of this conference, and the evil and loudmouthed [individuals] who stood on its podium, fully [confirm] that ‘Iran poses a strategic danger to the entire Middle East,’ as [British Prime Minister] Tony Blair said. This [threat] becomes blatantly clear when [Iran] causes mayhem and exports violence and terror through its servants, proxies, and allies, such as the armed militias and the remnants of Saddam [Hussein]’s army, the Salafis in Iraq who accuse others of heresy, Hizbullah in Lebanon, and Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the West Bank and Gaza.

“The turbaned extremists and terrorists ceaselessly threaten with [their] Shihab missiles and with the [Iranian] nuclear program, calling to exterminate the Jews and to wipe Israel off the map. They spread the [pathetic] delusion that ‘Israel will soon disappear just as the Soviet Union [disappeared].’

“This time, it was the students of Tehran University who responded with remarkable courage, and who refused to fall for the false [slogan] of ‘death to America and Israel.’ [Instead], they shouted ‘death to the dictator,’ burned and tore up Ahmadinejad’s picture. and interrupted his speech.”(4)

The Conference Reflects a Lack of Cultural and Human Sensitivity

Kuwaiti journalist Dr. Khaled Al-Janfawi wrote in Al-Siyassa:(5) “Holding a conference devoted to Holocaust denial reflects a lack of cultural and human sensitivity which may exacerbate hatred among human beings… We Muslims need to display human, cultural, and moral sensitivity in order to be a positive force in a humane world that no longer tolerates ethnic and religious conflict. We must stay away from anything that generates conflict among human beings… Holding a Holocaust [denial] conference in Iran is adding fuel to the fire… Some of the participants were agitators, and [others] were [individuals] involved in racist discrimination against [minorities] other than the Jews, such as the African-Americans in the U.S….”(6)

Former Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali: “The World Needs To Be Informed Again and Again About the Holocaust”

The reformist English-language website Middle East Transparent, quoting the German Internet magazine Spiegel Online, brought the following statements from Former Dutch MP Ayaan Hirsi Ali: “Western leaders today who say they are shocked by the conference of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran denying the Holocaust need to wake up to that reality. For the majority of Muslims in the world, the Holocaust is not a major historical event that they deny; they simply do not know [about it] because they were never informed. Worse, most of us are [brought up] to wish for a Holocaust of Jews.

“I cannot help but wonder: Why is there no counter-conference in Riyadh, Cairo, Lahore, Khartoum, or Jakarta condemning Ahmadinejad? Why is the Organization of the Islamic Conference silent on this?

“[Perhaps] the answer be as simple as it is horrifying: For generations the leaders of these so-called Muslim countries have been spoon-feeding their populations a constant diet of propaganda similar to the [propaganda] that generations of Germans (and other Europeans) were fed: that Jews are vermin and should be dealt with as such. In Europe, the logical conclusion was the Holocaust…

“The world needs conferences [promoting] love and understanding [among] cultures, and anti-racist campaigns. But more urgently, the world needs to be informed again and again about the Holocaust. Not only in the interest of the Jews who survived the Holocaust and their offspring, but in the interest of humanity in general.

“Perhaps the first [thing to do] is to counter the Islamic philanthropy that comes laced with hatred against the Jews. Western and Christian charities in the third world should take it upon themselves to inform Muslims and non-Muslims alike, in the areas where they are active, about the Holocaust.”(7)

Baztab Editorial: Neither Khomeini nor Khamenei Ever Denied the Holocaust

In a December 19, 2006 editorial, the Baztab website stated: “Even though the phenomenon [of Holocaust denial] has existed for over 60 years… the revolutionary Shi’ite clerics and intellectuals of [the period] before the [Islamic] Revolution never thought to doubt or question [the truth of] the Holocaust. Though [Ayatollah Ruholla] Khomeini’s [followers] might have expected to find some mention of Holocaust denial in his writings or speeches, no [such mentions] are found in any [of them].

“After the victory of the Islamic Revolution, the [Iranian] governments – those [presiding] during the 11 years of Khomeini’s rule, as well as those [presiding] during the 18 years of [Iranian Leader Ali] Khamenei’s rule – [could have denied the Holocaust]. But despite [Khomeini’s and Khamenei’s] dedication to the Palestinian cause and to the struggle against Israel, these governments showed no signs of denying the Holocaust, directly or indirectly. On the contrary, not a single government institution – including the Foreign Ministry, the Islamic Da’wa Organization, the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization and the Science Ministry – was instructed to deal with this issue [with the aim of denying the Holocaust]…

“In handling this issue, the heads and elected leaders of the state should separate the regime’s [official] policies from their personal views, and refrain from imposing [problematic positions on Iran] that may cost it dearly and have a crucial impact on national issues like the nuclear dossier.”(8)

(1) Khaled Kassab Mahamid, an Israeli Arab attorney from Nazareth, attempted to attend the conference but was denied entrance by the Iranian Foreign Ministry once it was discovered that he was an Israeli citizen.
(2) Muhammad Khaled is an Iranian who opened a museum that presents evidence that the Holocaust took place.
(3) Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), December 16, 2006.
(4) Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), December 17, 2006.
(5) Al-Siyassa (Kuwait), December 17, 2006.
(6) This presumably refers to American white supremacist David Duke, who attended the conference.
(7) Spiegel Online, December 29, 2006,
(8) Baztab, December 19, 2006.

Criticism of Tehran Holocaust Denial Conference in Arab and Iranian Media, MEMRI, Dispatch-Iran/Antisemitism Documentation Project, January 16, 2007

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