Reuters: A senior Iranian cleric on Friday backed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent comment that the Holocaust was a myth, the official IRNA news agency reported.
TEHRAN (Reuters) – A senior Iranian cleric on Friday backed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent comment that the Holocaust was a myth, the official IRNA news agency reported.
“The recent comments made by the president … are completely logical and are what all Iranians say,” Ayatollah Ali Meshkini told worshippers at Friday prayers in the city of Qom.
Ahmadinejad on Wednesday said the Holocaust was a myth and suggested Israel be moved to North America or Europe, comments that drew swift international condemnation.
“After the Second World War, the Zionists have spread lies that Hitler, Austria and Germany killed more than six million Jews in the furnaces in order to create a favourable situation for themselves in the world,” said Meshkini.
Meshkini is chairman of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, a clerical body that elects and supervises the performance of Iran’s Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Ahmadinejad, a former Revolutionary Guardsman who was elected president, said in October that Israel was a “tumour” that must be “wiped off the map”.
A statement drafted by European Union leaders described his Holocaust comment as “wholly unacceptable”.
“The European countries always react because they cannot tolerate logical comments made by the president,” Meshkini said.
While Meshkini devoted much of his Friday Prayers sermon to the issue, former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani made no mention of Ahmadinejad’s comments when he led prayers in Tehran.
Rafsanjani competed with conservative Ahmadinejad in June elections on a platform of improving relations with the West and has criticised the president for sacking dozens of moderate officials.
Analysts say Ahmadinejad’s anti-Israel rhetoric may be part of a strategy aimed at increasing his own legitimacy at home and Iran’s role in the region.