German TV broadcasts Iranian Holocaust denial

Interview with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on public television station triggers criticism.

Ahmadinejad attends a meeting with Pakistan's PM 390 R (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ahmadinejad attends a meeting with Pakistan's PM 390 R
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BERLIN – German Iranians and German Jews on Sunday criticized ZDF (Second German Television) for broadcasting without objection an interview in which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied the Holocaust.
The interviewer was also slammed for failing to raise the repression of Iran’s democracy movement.
The Holocaust is “a lie of Israel” that allows the Jewish state to hurt the Palestinians, Ahmadinejad said in the ZDF interview broadcasted last week.
Claus Kleber, a brand name journalist for ZDF, a tax-payer funded, public station, aired the 45-minute interview on the popular news channel.
Dieter Graumann, head of Germany’s 105,000 member Jewish community, told the Bild am Sonntag paper that ZDF provided Ahmadinejad a platform to spread his “poison.”
“I am very disappointed that a respected German journalist, and on top of that, a public station, allowed the most brazen remarks from notorious Holocaust denier Ahmadinejad to remain unchallenged,” Graumann said.
Cleber said he did not contradict Ahmadinejad because he did not want to give him the opportunity to “fully spread his rubbish,” according to a statement cited in the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel.
Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany, but Iranian diplomats and politicians have denied the Shoah at state-funded events in Germany.
German authorities chose not to purse violations of the country’s Holocaust denial law in 2008 against senior Iranian politician Mohammad Larijani for denying the Holocaust at a German Foreign Ministry event in Berlin. A year later, his brother, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani, issued statements containing elements of Holocaust denial at the annual Munich Security Conference, saying his country has “different perspectives on the Holocaust.”
While Germany enforces its anti-Holocaust denial law against neo-Nazis, the authorities fail to apply it to Iranian officials.
German-Iranian scholar Dr. Wahied Wahdat-Hagh told the mass circulation Bild in Sunday’s article that the ZDF interview was “careless.”
“Ahmadinejad was able to present himself as a quite friendly head of state who presented Iran as the victim of an indiscriminate use of Israeli state power. The interview was celebrated as a great success in Iran and an unbelievable prize win for Ahmadinejad, and this was made possible by a broadcast from our publicly funded television!” he said.
Wahdat-Hagh, who has written extensively about human-rights violations in Iran and Islamic-animated anti-Semitism, is the author of a new book, The Islamist Totalitarianism.
Omid Nouripour, a Bundestag deputy for the Green Party who was born in Tehran, told Bild that the interview represents a “moral failure” of Claus Kleber.
“Kleber did not cover the bloody repression of the protests against the regime in Iran. "That is a big journalistic mistake because the human rights question cannot be separated from the nuclear weapons questions,” Nouripour said. Iran's president ended the interview saying, "We very much like Germany. We like you very much [Mr. Kleber]."