September 24, 2009
Contact:
Anna Christopher, NPR


   

NPR NEWS INTERVIEW WITH IRANIAN PRESIDENT
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD ADDRESSES EXISTENCE OF HOLOCAUST,
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES IN POST-ELECTION IRAN


INTERVIEW AIRING IN TWO PARTS: TONIGHT ON ALL THINGS CONSIDERED,
TOMORROW ON MORNING EDITION

EXCERPTS BELOW; FULL TRANSCRIPT AND AUDIO AT NPR.ORG

September 24, 2009; Washington, D.C. – In a wide-ranging interview with NPR News, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep that the Holocaust "is a historical event" before returning to his more familiar rhetoric questioning its existence: "So the fundamental question I raise here is that, if this event happened, where did it happen?" The interview, which took place this morning in New York City, is airing in two parts: tonight on All Things Considered and tomorrow on Morning Edition. Extended audio and a complete transcript are available now at NPR.org, where there is additional coverage and reporting on the NPR news blog "The Two-Way."

During the interview, Inskeep asked Ahmadinejad to describe what he believes happened between 1942 and 1945. An edited version of their exchange follows; the complete transcript is available online.

PRES. AHMADINEJAD: The first question is, is the Holocaust a historical event or not? It is a historical event. And, having said that, there are numerous historical events. So the next question is, why is it that this specific event has become so prominent?...

MR. INSKEEP: Are you acknowledging that millions of people were killed? Millions of Jews, specifically, were killed during World War II?

PRES. AHMADINEJAD: ...While I personally was not alive 60 years ago, I happen to be alive now, and I can see that genocide is happening now under the pretext of an event that happened 60 years ago. So the fundamental question I raise here is that, if this event happened, where did it happen? As a form of an objection question, who was it carried by? Why should the Palestinian people make up for it?

MR. INSKEEP: You just went back to, 'if this event happened.' If you'll forgive me, because time is short, we wish to go on, but do you acknowledge that it happened? Do you now find it a reliable claim?

PRES. AHMADINEJAD: I'm not a historian. Most certainly, I've read a lot of books about this issue, and that is why I have questions about it. My questions are very clear ones. We should allow researchers to examine all sorts of questions because it’s quite clear that when they do, they will reach different conclusions.

Inskeep also repeatedly pressed Ahmadinejad about the arrest, torture and murder of Iranians following the country's disputed presidential election in June. Ahmadinejad told NPR that members of his country's security forces "may lose their jobs for good" if they are found guilty of torturing and murdering protesters. Ahmadinejad had previously denied that security forces were involved in prisoner abuse.

In the NPR interview, Ahmadinejad said there was "free speech in Iran," and denied that anyone had been arrested for protesting against him, saying: "No one is persecuted simply because of speaking something against Ahmadinejad or against Ahmadinejad's policies.”

Asked if he would call for the release of 100 suspected political opponents who were convicted en masse in a much-criticized trial earlier this year, the Iranian president said: "I do not want to say that what actions are taken by the judges are always 100-percent correct, but for there to be order in society we have to accept the verdict of the judge."

All excerpts must be credited to "NPR News." Television usage must include on-screen NPR News credit with NPR logo.

Morning Edition, the two-hour newsmagazine airing weekdays and hosted by Steve Inskeep in Washington, D.C. and Renée Montagne from NPR West in Culver City, California, is public radio's most listened-to program with nearly 14 million weekly listeners. For local stations and broadcast times, visit www.NPR.org/stations