U.S. museum: Iran foreign minister lied when he denied Holocaust denial policy

Special to WorldTribune.com

A Holocaust denial cartoon contest has the support of Iran’s government despite claims to the contrary by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum said.

A statement by the museum said that organizations associated with the contest are backed by government entities in Teheran and that previous contests in 2006 and 2015 were also endorsed by Iranian government officials and agencies.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. /Reuters
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. /Reuters

The statement “urges global leaders to hold the Iranian government to Foreign Minister Zarif’s promise to deny visas to some contest participants and that neither he nor President (Hassan) Rouhani would attend the contest.”

According to reports, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova sent a letter to Rouhani in January calling the contest “completely opposed to the spirit of UNESCO and to actual programs and publications that UNESCO has been putting out for decades.”

Zarif, in an interview with The New Yorker, said Teheran “does not support, nor does it organize, any cartoon festival of the nature that you’re talking about,” adding the event was organized by an NGO “that is not controlled by the Iranian government. Nor is it endorsed by the Iranian government.”

Zarif went on to compare those organizing the cartoon festival, which solicits cartoons denying the Holocaust or questioning its importance in recent Western history, to the Ku Klux Klan.

“Why does the United States have the Ku Klux Klan? Is the government of the United States responsible for the fact that there are racially hateful organizations in the United States?”

When he was appointed to serve as Rouhani’s foreign minister in 2013, Zarif refused to condemn the Holocaust.

Meanwhile, in his speech at the Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony at Yad Vashem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized that Holocaust denial still continues with those who seek Israel’s destruction.

“There are those who want to ignore the intentions of Iran that are inscribed on its missiles with the words ‘Destroy Israel,’ and which holds a cartoon Holocaust denial contest,” he said. “We don’t ignore it.”

He added that while some may we willing to come to terms with nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran, Israel will never do so. “All those conspiring to destroy us should know one thing,” he said. “Israel has great strength – offensive strength, defensive strength, deterrent strength.”