VIDEO - Iran opened Monday a controversial conference where "researchers" will be able to openly question the veracity of the Holocaust, despite a chorus of international disapproval.
The organizers, the Foreign Ministry's Institute for Political and International Studies (IPIS), say the two-day conference has drawn 67 foreign researchers from 30 countries.
In his opening speech, the institute's chief, Rasoul Mousavi, said the conference provided an opportunity to discuss "Questions" About the Holocaust away from Western taboos and the restrictions imposed on scholars in Europe. In Germany, Austria and France, it is illegal to deny the Holocaust.
"This conference seeks neither to deny nor prove the Holocaust," Mousavi said. "It is just to provide an appropriate scientific atmosphere for scholars to offer their opinions in freedom about a historical issue."
'Why should Palestinians pay for Nazis' crimes?'
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki dismissed the foreign criticism as "predictable," telling conference delegates in a speech that there was "no logical reason for opposing this conference."
"The objective for organizing this conference is to create an atmosphere to raise various opinions about a historical issue. We are not seeking to deny or prove the Holocaust," Mottaki said.
"If the official version of the Holocaust is thrown into doubt, then the identity and nature of Israel will be thrown into doubt. And if, during this review, it is proved that the Holocaust was a historical reality, then what is
the reason for the Muslim people of the region and the Palestinians having to pay the cost of the Nazis' crimes?" Mottaki said.
Mottaki also described anti-Semitism as a unique Western phenomenon. He said that there was never any anti-Semitism or racism in Iran, and that "not only does this phenomenon not exist in Muslim countries, but throughout history many Jews can be found in these countries who have reached senior positions."
Neturei Karta to attend conference
Three Jewish representatives, Rabbis of the anti-Zionist Neturei Karta faction, are set to attend the Iranian conference.
The three will present at the conference a position stating that the Holocaust was provoked by the Zionists, and that it must not serve to legitimize acts against the Palestinians.
According to this claim, the people of Israel vowed never to turn against the nations of the world. With the establishment of Zionism, this oath had been broken, a violation which brought about the Holocaust.
Dudi Cohen and Haim Levinson contributed to the report