Iran Hosts Large Meeting of Holocaust Deniers

Iran is hosting a two-day conference that brings together Holocaust deniers and foes of Israel from around the world.

Sparked by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's frequent challenges to the widely held history of the Holocaust, the conference includes former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke, as well as ultra-Orthodox Jews who oppose the Zionist movement that created modern Israel.

Iranian leaders say the "Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision" conference, organized by Iran's Foreign Ministry, displays the country's commitment to intellectual freedom, in contrast to some European nations that have jailed Holocaust deniers.

From Syria to Australia, Morocco to Malaysia, most participants share a single passion: a desire to prove that the Holocaust never happened.

One participant from France said that there is no proof of the mass killings. Another, from Australia, was asked what he thought about the Holocaust. He said simply, "It's a lie."

The Iranians themselves were weighing their words a bit more carefully. Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki opened the conference by declaring that the meeting is meant neither to deny or to prove the Holocaust took place.

For Iran, the conference seems to have a political goal: to raise questions about the Holocaust in order to challenge the historical reasons for establishing the state of Israel in 1947.

Since President Ahmadinejad's election last year, Iran's government has sought to portray itself as the Muslim world's pre-eminent supporter of the Palestinian struggle against Israel.

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