Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif survived a censure vote in parliament on Tuesday for his refusal to deny the Holocaust, Reuters reported.
Zarif, who is Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, caused uproar among hardline conservatives in Iran when he called the Holocaust a “horrifying tragedy” in an interview with a German television station earlier this year.
He has received several warnings and had previously been called to parliament to account for his perceived soft line on traditional enemies Israel and the United States.
In Tuesday’s hearing, broadcast live on state radio, 75 Islamic hardliners in the 290-member assembly questioned him on a range of issues, including his stance on “illegitimate” Israel and the “lie of the Holocaust,” according to Reuters.
During the hearing, Zarif defended the statements he made, saying he will not let Iran be turned into a security issue by Israel, just because Tehran insists on denying the Holocaust.
Zarif declared that as long as he is the foreign minister, he would not let the country to be portrayed as a security threat by the “Zionist project” through unrealistic Holocaust rejection.
He was able to evade trouble, however, when the house voted against censuring him in the wake of the comments.
Several Iranian officials have openly denied the Holocaust, including its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who recently said, "In European countries, no one dares to talk about the Holocaust, and we do not know if it's real or not."
Iran’s former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, openly denied the Holocaust on endless occasions and, towards the end of his presidency, boasted that his proudest moment was the Holocaust denial.
Several months beforemaking the statements about the Holocaust to the German newspaper, Zarif wrote on Twitter that Iran had never officially denied the occurrence of the Holocaust, and that Ahmadinejad was no longer in power.
Ahmadinejad’s successor, Hassan Rouhani, has tried to reverse the path of antagonism to the West and openly engaged in dialogue with the United States over the nuclear dispute.
Several months after being elected, Rouhani 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.