Depending on who you ask, Iran’s Foreign Minister may or may not have said this week that the Holocaust was “tragically cruel”.
Several news outlets reported that Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at the international security conference in Munich on Sunday that the killing of Jews by the Nazi regime was “tragically cruel and should not happen again.”
“We have nothing against the Jews. We do not feel threatened by anyone,” Zarif added, according to Al Arabiya, but noted that “the rights of the Palestinians have been violated by Israel for 60 years.”
On Monday, however, the semi-official Iranian Fars news agency reported that Zarif had “categorically denied” the remarks attributed to him about Israel.
He stressed, according to Fars, that the Islamic Republic's view about the “Zionist regime” has not changed.
Speaking to the news agency, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hassan Qashqavi rejected the media reports about Zarif’s statements as untrue, and said, “In a phone conversation that I had with Mr. Zarif he completely rejected the remarks attributed to him and declared that the Islamic Republic’s stance about the (Zionist) regime is what has been repeatedly announced by the country’s diplomacy apparatus and this stance has not changed.”
The statements on the Holocaust, if they were made, are not the first time that Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani or Zarif have presented moderate views about the Holocaust.
In September, Zarif wrote on Twitter that Iran had never officially denied the occurrence of the Holocaust, and that former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denied the Holocaust and openly called to wipe Israel off the map, was no longer in power.
That tweet came in response to Christine Pelosi, the daughter of the U.S. House Minority Leader, after Zarif joined Rouhani in sending Rosh Hashanah wishes to the Jewish people.
Rouhani himself later stated in an interview on CNN that the Nazis committed a "reprehensible" crime against the Jewish people.
Iran subsequently claimed that CNN had misrepresented Rouhani's statements, claiming the network added the words "Holocaust" and "reprehensible" to its translation.