Holocaust deniers gather in Iran

From the Associated Press

Iran played host to Holocaust deniers from around the world Monday at a conference it said would examine whether the Nazi genocide took place.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert condemned the meeting as a "sick phenomenon."

The 67 participants from 30 countries included former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and Holocaust skeptics who have been prosecuted in Europe for questioning whether 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis and whether gas chambers were ever used.

"The number of victims at the Auschwitz concentration camp could be about 2,007," Australian Frederick Toben said at the conference, according to a Persian translation of his remarks. "The railroad to the camp did not have enough capacity to transfer large numbers of Jews," said Toben, who was jailed in 1999 in Germany for casting doubt on the Holocaust.

The two-day conference was initiated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has described the Holocaust as a myth and has called for Israel to be wiped off the map.

Organizers and participants touted the conference as a scholarly gathering aimed at discussing the Holocaust, away from Western taboos and the restrictions imposed on scholars in Europe. In Germany, Austria and France, it is illegal to deny aspects of the Holocaust.

The participants included two rabbis and four other members of the group Jews United Against Zionism, which rejects the creation of Israel, contending that it violates Jewish law.

Rabbi Ahron Cohen urged participants not to deny the Holocaust.

"If we say that this crime did not happen, it is a humiliation and insult to the victims," he said, according to a translation of his remarks.

But he added that Zionists have used the Holocaust to "give legitimacy to their illegitimate project," the creation of Israel.

Another participant, Robert Faurisson, has been convicted five times in France for denying crimes against humanity. He has claimed that no gas chambers were used in Nazi concentration camps.

Germany joined Israel's condemnation of the gathering.

German Parliament President Norbert Lammert protested the conference in a letter to Ahmadinejad, calling it anti-Semitic propaganda "under the pretext of scientific freedom."

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