Reuters: Iran’s ambassador to Lisbon was summoned by Portugal’s government on Wednesday after saying in an interview it would have taken the Nazis 15 years to burn the corpses of 6 million people. By Axel Bugge
LISBON (Reuters) – Iran’s ambassador to Lisbon was summoned by Portugal’s government on Wednesday after saying in an interview it would have taken the Nazis 15 years to burn the corpses of 6 million people.
The remarks, reflecting similar Holocaust denials by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, were an unacceptable distortion of history, Portuguese Foreign Minister Diogo Freitas do Amaral said in a statement.
The statements “seriously offended humanity’s collective conscience,” the minister said.
In an interview on Tuesday with Portuguese state radio RDP, Iranian ambassador Mohammed Taheri said: “When I was ambassador in Warsaw, I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau twice and made my calculations. To incinerate 6 million people, 15 years would be necessary.”
Freitas do Amaral said Taheri was told his statements and those of his government’s over the Holocaust were unacceptable.
Freitas do Amaral said Iran’s statements over the Holocaust, attacks on embassies in Tehran and Iran’s “negative attitude” in its nuclear standoff with the International Atomic Energy Agency were threatening relations based on “mutual confidence.”
Ahmedinejad has repeatedly denied that the Holocaust, the Nazis’ killing of 6 million Jews during World War Two, took place. He has also called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”
More than 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, died at Auschwitz-Birkenau, a death camp set up by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland.
“When our president wants to talk about the Holocaust with historians and scientists, the whole world is against him,” Taheri said, referring to plans by Ahmedinejad to organize an academic conference on the Holocaust.
“Historians need to get together to give their opinions,” the envoy added.
Taheri said the publication by European newspapers of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, outraging many Muslims and provoking widespread protests, was an Israeli conspiracy designed to cause conflict between Muslims and Christians.
“We think that this is a conspiracy by Zionists who want to put Muslims against Christians in Europe,” he said.
Iran’s best-selling newspaper, Hamshahri, has responded to the Muslim outrage over published cartoons of the Prophet by organizing a competition for cartoons about the Holocaust, saying it is a test of the West’s vaunted freedom of speech.