Iran’s Holocaust-denying Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reportedly claimed Iran has never denied the Holocaust and wished Jews around the world a happy Rosh Hashanah on Twitter on Thursday.
“Happy Rosh Hashanah,” tweeted an account believed to belong to Zarif.
He later followed up with “Iran never denied [the Holocaust]. The man who was perceived to be denying it [former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] is now gone. Happy New Year.”
While serving as Iran’s representative to the United Nations in 2007, Zarif dodged a question about whether he personally believed 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust at a Columbia University event in 2007. He then lashed out at audience members when they mocked his evasive response, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“I answered the question … I said a great atrocity was committed,” said Zarif, adding that the audience was stifling “the right of people to freedom of expression.”
CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour said Thursday that she spoke to Zarif and confirmed that the tweet was written by him.
She added: “Iran's FM told me his country has never denied Holocaust and the man ‘perceived to be denying it’ [Ahmadinejad] is now gone. Happy New Year.”
Former Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who served from 2005 until last month, routinely dismissed the Holocaust, calling it “a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim.” The Iranian government has also sponsored international Holocaust denial conferences in Tehran.
This is not the first time Zarif defended the Iranian government against Holocaust denial charges.
“Iran does not deny Holocaust. The president [Ahmadinejad] does not deny Holocaust. We believe that that was a genocide,” he told NPR in 2007. “It must be condemned, and it must not happen again. It should not happen again to the Jewish people, nor should it happen again to any other group that has been subjected to systematic violations of their human rights, and that is the issue that Iran has been pursuing.”
Zarif’s tweets came one day after a similar Rosh Hashanah message was sent out from a Twitter account thought to belong to newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rowhani.
“As the sun is about to set here in #Tehran I wish all Jews, especially Iranian Jews, a blessed Rosh Hashanah,” he tweeted.
A senior Iranian official denied that Rowhani made the remarks in a statement to the state-controlled Fars news agency, and claimed the Twitter account does not actually belong to Rowhani.