United Nations, Sep 25 (PTI): Indicating a shift in Tehran’s policy, new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani today condemned the Holocaust, saying the crime committed by the Nazis against Jews was “reprehensible”.
“Any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis committed towards the Jews, as well as non-Jewish people, was reprehensible and condemnable,” 64-year-old Rouhani, a moderate cleric known as ‘Diplomatic Sheikh’ for his constructive approach, told CNN.
His remarks stands in stark contrast to his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who used his UN speeches for questioning the Holocaust – the killing of six million Jews by Nazis during Hitler’s regime in Germany.
When asked whether or not he believed that the Holocaust was a myth, the Iranian president said, “I am not a historian and when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust it is the historians that should reflect.”
“Whatever criminality they committed against the Jews we condemn,” he said. “The taking of human life is contemptible.
It makes no difference if that life is Jewish life, Christian or Muslim. For us it is the same,” said Rouhani, who had dodged the same question in an interview last week with NBC.
Rouhani, however, took a swipe against Israel, saying “this does not mean that on the other hand you can say ‘Nazis committed crimes against a group, now therefore they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it.'”
“This too is an act that should be condemned. There should be an evenhanded discussion,” he added.
The Iranian president is here on his maiden visit after assuming office to attend the 68th Session of the UN General Assembly wherein he addressed the world leaders hours after US President Barack Obama’s speech from the same podium.
Rouhani during his UN speech said that Iran poses no threat to the world and Tehran is ready for talks on its nuclear energy programme with complete transparency.
“Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran’s security and defence doctrine, and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions,” he said, adding only way to resolve the nuclear issue is to respect Iran’s inalienable right to peaceful atomic programme.
Germany welcomed his remarks, with its Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle saying “This is a good day for those who bet on a political and diplomatic solution” but demanded “substantial action” from Tehran on its nuclear programme.
The West accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons through its atomic energy programme, a charge deny by Tehran which maintains it’s for peaceful purposes.