Sunday, February 12, 2006

Iranian Jewish leader criticises President

The chairman of the Iranian Jewish commmunity, here reported as uneasy over the Iranian president's Holocaust denial, has plucked up courage to write a strongly-worded letter, the BBC reports. (With thanks: Albert)

The chairman of Iran's Jewish Council has strongly criticised the country's hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for saying the Holocaust was a myth. In a letter to the president, Haroun Yashayaei said the leader's remarks had shocked the international community and caused fear in Iran's Jewish community. Mr Yashayaei described the Holocaust as one of the most obvious and sad events in the 20th Century. Six million Jews were killed in Nazi persecution during World War II. This is the first time that a senior Iranian Jewish leader has openly criticised President Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust.

In his strongly-worded letter, Mr Yashayaei asked the president how he could justify what he termed the crimes of Hitler.

Mr Yashayaei said the Holocaust was a fact of history and not a myth and accused the Iranian president of ignorance and political prejudice.

An Iranian Jew lights candles of the Menorah
Iran's small Jewish community is recognised by the Islamic Republic

Iran's small Jewish community of about 30,000 is recognised by the Islamic Republic and there is even a Jewish member of parliament. Iranian Jews normally do not interfere in political issues and they often support the country's stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict. In a gesture of loyalty
to the Islamic Republic, Mr Yashayaei told the Iranian president that his comments on the Holocaust were against the teachings of the leader of the Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khamenei. The letter was apparently sent about a week ago and there is no news whether President Ahmadinejad has responded to it.

Read article in full

Update : What the letter said:

"How is it possible to ignore all of the undeniable evidence existing for the exile and massacre of the Jews in Europe during World War Two?" said a copy of Yashayaei's letter faxed to Reuters on Sunday.

"Challenging one of the most obvious and saddening events of 20th-century humanity has created astonishment among the people of the world and spread fear and anxiety among the small Jewish community of Iran," the letter added.

Reuters report in Haaretz (with thanks:Lily)
Jerusalem Post article

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