The Iranian regime is no stranger to Holocaust denial. The United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor’s 2014 report on human rights practices reveals that the Iranian government consistently and continuously blocked a website dedicated to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and educating people about the tragic event which cost the lives of 6 million Jews at the hands of Nazis.
According to JPost, the Iranian media says the website, known as Project Aladdin, was created to recognize the “fabricated Holocaust narrative” of the “Zionists.” The Paris-based NGO was reportedly created in 2009 under the sponsorship of UNESCO and seeks to promote intercultural relations and better understanding throughout the world and particularly amongst Jews and Muslims, notes the Post.
In February, Iran launched its Second International Holocaust Cartoons Contest and competition based on the theme of Holocaust denial in reaction to French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo‘s publication of Muhammad.
Las year, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif came under fire by Iranian hardliners for recognizing the Holocaust as a “horrifying tragedy” during an interview on a German television station. JPost notes that same year, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei questioned whether the Holocaust ever really occurred and referred to it as “unknown” during the Persian New Year.
Judaism has deep roots in Iran, reaching beyond 500 BC. Cyrus the Great, who was a Zoroastrian king of Persia, called for the rebuilding of the second Temple in Jerusalem so that the Jews could return to their land. He also liberated the Jews from their captivity in Babylon, and the story of Purim takes place in Persia.
Jews are recognized as a minority by the Iranian government with a lone representative to oversee close to 9,000 Jews left in the Islamic Republic.