Iran's Ayatollah Khamenei Posts Holocaust Denial Video on Remembrance Day

Iran's Supreme Leader Posts Holocaust Denial Video
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks on television after casting his ballot in the Iranian presidential election in Tehran, June 12, 2009. On Wednesday, which was Holocaust Remembrance Day, he questioned the validity of the Holocaust. Caren Firouz/Reuters

As the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday, one man was questioning the validity of one of the biggest human catastrophes witnessed in human history. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, published a video on his official website denying the Holocaust.

Khamenei questioned the Nazi mass slaughter of more than six million Jews in World War II in a three-minute video entitled “Holocaust: Are the Dark Ages Over?”

It plays one of Khamenei’s speeches from March 2014, in which he said: “No one in European countries dares to speak about the Holocaust, while it is not clear whether the core of this matter is reality or not. Even if it is reality, it is not clear how it happened.”

He continued: “Speaking about the Holocaust and expressing doubts about it is considered to be a great sin. If someone does this, they stop, arrest, imprison and sue him. This is while they claim to be the supporters of freedom.”

It shows images of the Auschwitz concentration camp and Holocaust deniers in handcuffs while a speaker purporting to be Khamenei is heard condemning world support for Israel.

“It is Western powers headed by America that are [supporting Israel],” the narrator says, in a translation cited by the Times of Israel. “This is while they say in their slogans that they are opposed to terrorism and [the Islamic State terrorist group].”

Iran’s highest religious leader has questioned the Holocaust in the past. In 2014, he said: “The Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it’s uncertain how it has happened.”

His video came on the same day that UNESCO challenged Iranian President Hassan Rouhani about an upcoming Holocaust cartoon competition, in which the winner would receive a $50,000 cash prize.

Organizers say the contest is supposed to highlight a perceived double standard surrounding the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, the central figure of Islam, but Israeli officials say it is an example of Iranian anti-Semitism. Iran has held similar contests twice before.