Iran Reform Candidate Condemns Killing of Jews in the Holocaust


mirhossein-mousaviThe leading reformist candidate in upcoming Iranian presidential elections yesterday condemned the killing of Jews in the Holocaust, a much different stance than current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who in 2005 called the Holocaust a myth. Prime minister during Iran’s 1980-88 war with Iraq, Mirhossein Mousavi, 67, is seriously considered by many moderates and even some conservatives as their main presidential candidate and a strong rival to Ahmadinejad in the contest.”Our country was harmed because of extremist policies adopted in the last three years…. My foreign policy with all countries will be one of detente,” Mousavi said at his first news conference since announcing his candidacy.

“We should try to gain the international community’s trust while preserving our national interests.”

Ahmadinejad’s critics say his fiery speeches against the West have exacerbated a dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, which the West says is a front to covertly build nuclear weapons. Tehran denies the charge.

U.S.-Iran tensions have worsened since the 2005 election of Ahmadinejad, who questioned the Holocaust and called for Israel to be wiped off the map.

When asked about his views on the Holocaust, Mousavi said: “Killing innocent people is condemned. The way the issue [Holocaust] was put forward [by Ahmadinejad] was incorrect.”

“Of course the question could be that why Palestinians should be punished for a crime committed by Germans?”

Mousavi’s conciliatory tone followed an overture by U.S. President Barack Obama towards the Islamic Republic.

Obama has offered a new U.S. approach to Iran, which has not had relations with Washington for three decades, saying he would extend a hand of peace if Iran would “unclench its fist.”

Iran says Washington must show real policy change towards Iran rather than in words.

While repeatedly stressing his belief in following the guidelines of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the late founder of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, Mousavi said Iran had no intention of continuing decades of hostility.

“If America practically changes its Iran policy, then we will surely hold talks with them,” Mousavi said.

Obama presented Iran on Sunday with a “clear choice” of halting its nuclear and missile activity or facing increased isolation. Tehran has repeatedly rejected international demands to stop its most sensitive nuclear work.

“Iran will never abandon its nuclear right,” Mousavi said.

Mousavi, who defended Iran’s state-controlled economy when prime minister, said high inflation and unemployment were among major issues that had to be tackled and that more liberalization of the economy was needed.

“At that time Iran was at war…. Now we need privatization, creation of jobs and…foreign investment,” said Mousavi.

Ahmadinejad is under fire by reformists and even some of his conservative backers for his economic policies, blamed for fuelling inflation and wasting petro-dollars. Critics say his economic policies are failing, but he still rallies Iran’s poor with his charisma and promises of state handouts.

Mousavi promised “social changes” in a country where pro-democracy activists have in recent years fled the country or have been jailed.

“I believe in freedom of thought, freedom of press and freedom of expression based on our constitution,” he said.

Analysts say the fate of the race could depend on whether Ahmadinejad retains the support of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the last say in all matters of state and whose words could influence millions of loyalists.

Khamenei, who will also decide on any move to renew U.S. ties, has publicly praised Ahmadinejad.

{AP/Elisha Newscenter}