(photo credit: AP)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said he is proud that the West was outraged by his denial of the Holocaust, according to Iran's state news agency.
The report by IRNA on Monday quoted Ahmadinejad as saying that angering the world's "professional man-slayers" - an apparent reference to Israel and some in the West - is a source of "pride for us." He did not elaborate further.
During a speech on Friday, Ahmadinejad reiterated his doubts about the Holocaust, questioning whether it was a "real event." The remarks drew swift condemnation from the West.
The Iranian president was speaking at Quds Day, an annual anti-Israel commemoration in Iran. He said the Holocaust had been "a false pretext to create Israel." He also called on all Muslims to confront the "Zionist regime [as] a national and religious duty."
Over the weekend, the European Union condemned Ahmadinejad's denial of the Holocaust, saying it encouraged anti-Semitism and hatred.
The Swedish EU presidency urged Iranian leaders to "contribute constructively to peace and security in the Middle East," and condemned Ahmadinejad's attacks on Israel's right to exist.
On Saturday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko also responded to Ahmadinejad's speech, saying "such statements, wherever they come from, contradict the truth and are totally unacceptable," according to AFP.
The Iranian leader's comment "does not contribute to creating an international atmosphere that would foster a fruitful dialogue on issues concerning Iran," Nesterenko said.
"Attempts to rewrite history, especially as the 70th anniversary of the start of World War II is being marked this year, are an offense to the memory of all victims and all those who fought fascism," he added.
Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said Friday that Ahmadinejad's comments were "hateful." White House spokesman Robert Gibbs echoed her, telling reporters, "Obviously we condemn what he said."
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also criticized Ahmadinejad's rhetoric in a statement communicated by the British Embassy in Israel.
"Ahmadinejad's repeated denials of the Holocaust are abhorrent as well as ignorant. It is very important that the world community stands up against this tide of abuse. This outburst is not worthy of the leader of Iran," Miliband said Friday.