Iran has invited scholars from 30 countries to attend a conference starting tomorrow about the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed by the Nazis.
“For 60 years talking about the Holocaust was a crime in the West but now there is a serious debate about the Holocaust in the media and also in political and popular meetings,” state television quoted Mr Ahmadinejad as saying.
The Iranian President sparked an international outcry by referring to the Holocaust as a “myth” and saying Israel should be relocated to Europe or North America.
“Even some Western politicians have declared that the original foundation of the Zionist regime (Israel) was a mistake,” he said.
Mr Ahmadinejad has said his questioning of the Holocaust is aimed at encouraging scholarly debate and an examination of the reasons behind the creation of the state of Israel.
Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi has said the Holocaust conference will look at issues such as “whether the gas chambers were actually used by the Nazis”.
The conference has been condemned by various countries and organisations. US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack described it as “disgraceful”.
“It is just flabbergasting that … the leadership of the regime continues to deny that six million plus people were killed in the Holocaust,” he said yesterday.
Karen Pollock, chief executive of the British Holocaust Educational Trust, called the Iranian conference “ridiculous”.
“Denial of the Holocaust is a virulent form of anti-semitism,” she said. “It is not only deeply offensive to Holocaust survivors but to any right-minded human being.”
Iran was also sharply criticised for hosting a cartoon competition on the Holocaust this year.