Ahmadinejad: Holocaust 'false pretext to create Israel'

Ahmadinejad Holocaust

Ahmadinejad Golpayegani 248.88 (photo credit: )
Ahmadinejad Golpayegani 248.88
(photo credit: )
In an apparent sign of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his ruling party flexing their muscles ahead of next week's UN General Assembly, the hard-line leader again denied the Holocaust, while two top reformists were attacked in Teheran. The Saudi Al Arabiya network reported that Mohammad Khatami, a former president, was "attacked with a knife" during the rally by members of the Basij, a civilian militia loyal to the regime, and taken to hospital. The Jerusalem Post could not verify the report and the network provided no further details on Khatami's condition. Other media outlets did not report the knifing incident, but reported that the 65-year-old Khatami was pushed to the ground and his turban fell from his head. An Iranian news agency also reported that the car of Mir Houssein Mousavi, the most outspoken critic of the regime, was attacked and that he had to flee the area. The report was also posted on Mousavi's Website. Earlier Friday, tens of thousands of Iranian government supporters and dozens of opposition activists poured out onto the streets of the capital for coinciding marches marking Quds Day - an annual event dedicated to condemning Israel and expressing support for the Palestinians. Quds is Arabic for Jerusalem. Addressing government supporters, Ahmadinejad called the Holocaust "a false pretext to create Israel." He said that "confronting the Zionist regime is a national and religious duty," and that Israel "has no future." Khatami was marching with the opposition supporters at the anti-government rally when he was attacked. A reformist Web site cited witnesses as saying the attackers pushed Khatami to the ground. It said opposition activists rescued him and quickly repelled the assailants. Later, Al Arabiya reported he was stabbed. Khatami has sided with the opposition in the post-election crisis that has gripped Iran. The opposition insisted on holding its own protest, despite warnings by the clerical establishment against anti-government rallies. There has not been a mass opposition demonstration since mid-July, when authorities cracked down heavily on the opposition. On Thursday, Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard warned opposition protesters against holding anti-government demonstrations, saying that if they attempted "any sort of violation and disorder" they would encounter "strong confrontation." Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, also warned the opposition last week against using Quds Day for other purpose than demonstrating solidarity with the Palestinians. The pro-reform camp claims Mousavi was the rightful winner of the June 12 presidential election and that the government faked the balloting in Ahmadinejad's favor. After the vote, thousands of opposition supporters held street demonstrations against the alleged vote fraud but were met with a heavy government crackdown. The opposition says at least 72 protesters were killed in the violence that followed the election, while government officials maintain that only 36 died in the unrest - the worst in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that brought the current regime to power. Thousands were arrested, and the regime's opponents have charged some detainees were tortured to death in prison. Customarily on Quds Day, Teheran residents gather for pro-Palestinian rallies in various parts of the city, march through the streets and later converge for the prayers ceremony. The ceremony was established in 1979 by the leader of the Islamic Revolution and founder of present-day Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.