An Iranian cleric recently gave a Friday sermon in the city of Arak in which he expressed doubt that six million Jews were indeed killed in the Holocaust.

The cleric, Gholamali Dorri-Najafabadi, is the representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Iran's Markazi Province. He said in the sermon on Friday, February 17, that it is not true that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, because there were not that many Jews in Europe.

He claimed that the true figure is around 50 or 60 Jews, and that the Holocaust has been used as a "pretext" to fight against Islam, Muslims, and the hijab.

The sermon was aired on Iran’s Aftab TV and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

"If anyone talks about the Holocaust, [the West] imprisons them, flogs them, executes them, fines them... If anyone talks about hijab, they torture them and kill them. They fight Islam," claimed Dorri-Najafabadi.

"[The number of] Jews killed in the Holocaust during Hitler's [rule] was not six million. There were not even six million Jews [in Europe] to be killed. Maybe 60, six, or 50 [Jews] were killed. We don't want to be antisemitic, but this has been used as a pretext. So for 70 years they have been fighting Islam, hijab, and Muslims," he added.

Holocaust denial is a recurring phenomenon in Iran. Khamenei questioned the veracity of the Holocaust on International Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2016. Two years earlier, Khamenei suggested that the Holocaust “was not real”.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust on a regular basis as well. Prior to leaving the presidency, Ahmadinejad said he prided himself most on his denial of the Holocaust.

Iran’s current President, Ebrahim Raisi, this past September refused to acknowledge that the Holocaust happened, telling CBS’ “60 Minutes” in an interview that it should “be investigated”.