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Ayatollah Khamenei 'Unsure' if Holocaust Happened

Iranian Supreme Leader claims Holocaust denial 'part of Iranian culture,' slams criminalizing it as 'violation of free speech.'
By Uzi Baruch, Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 3/21/2014, 12:27 PM / Last Update: 3/21/2014, 12:39 PM

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Reuters

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, denied the Holocaust Friday in a speech honoring the Iranian New Year, Nowruz. 

"In European countries, no one dares to talk about the Holocaust," the Ayatollah claimed, "and we do not know if it's real or not." 

According to the Ayatollah, Europe's criminalization of denying the Holocaust is an attack on Iranian culture.

"Expressing opinion about the Holocaust, or casting doubt on it, is one of the greatest sins in the West. They prevent this, arrest the doubters, try them while claiming to be a free country," he said. 

"They passionately defend their red lines ... how do they expect us to overlook our red lines that are based on our revolutionary and religious beliefs," he claimed.

Controversy has reigned over Iran's actual stance on the Holocaust, which has allegedly turned more "moderate" since President Hassan Rouhani was elected to power. 

Earlier this year, Iranian Foreign Minister Javvad Zarif stated at the Munich Security Conference that the Holocaust was “tragically cruel and should not happen again.” He later allegedly added that “We have nothing against the Jews. We do not feel threatened by anyone." Hardliners later upbraided Zarif over the statements.

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.