Germany and Russia joined the EU on Friday in condemnation of the Iranian president for suggesting the Holocaust might not have taken place and that Israel should be moved to Europe.
The German Foreign Ministry said it had summoned Iran’s ambassador to protest, and ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger told a news conference this was being done to show how seriously Berlin was taking the comments.
German Jewish leaders called for political sanctions against the Islamic republic over Ahmadinejad’s remarks. Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany.
Paul Spiegel, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in a statement: “Political instruments ranging from political and economic sanctions to expulsion from the United Nations must finally be seriously looked at and used.”
Michel Friedman, chairman of the German chapter of the international Jewish organisation Keren Hayesod, was equally determined. "I call on the government ... to sever diplomatic ties with Iran," Friedman told N24 news television.
Britain, which has played a key role in European attempts to persuade Tehran to give up its nuclear ambitions, said such comments had “no place in civilised political debate”. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw’s presidency statement said, “Iran is unique in opposing a resolution to the Arab-Israel dispute based on the principle of two states living side by side in peace and security.”
The Russian Foreign Ministry said of Ahmadinejad’s comments: “There are well known historical facts concerning World War Two, including the Holocaust. These facts cannot be revised and this should be understood by everyone.”
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and the US have also issued strong condemnations of the remarks. —Reuters