BUENOS AIRES (JTA) — Jewish institutions in Uruguay have planned a demonstration against statements denying the Holocaust made by the Iranian ambassador to the country.
Thursday’s demonstration also will protest the growing influence of the Iranian regime in the region, as well as call for the Holocaust and other genocides to be included in the Uruguayan education curriculum.
It coincides with a visit by the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister to Europe and America, Ali Ahani, who began a South American tour this week that includes Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil.
The rally, called "Against Memory Extermination," was organized by the Jewish Central Committee of Uruguay, Zionist Youth Federation and the Memory of the Holocaust Center.
“What happened in Uruguay shows the true intentions of the Iranian government behind commercial ties with Latin American countries," Claudio Epelman, director of the Latin American Jewish Congress, told JTA. "Iran seeks to spread its idea of anti-Semitism and hatred in the region. One cannot shield the trade relations between countries of their ideologies and politics."
Iran’s ambassador in Uruguay, Hojatollah Soltani, has prompted an angry reaction from Jewish leaders in Uruguay and in the country’s government with his statements about the Holocaust.
"Two million, 4 million, 6 million … there are different figures on the Jews’ news," Soltani said in late July during a public meeting at the Uruguay-Sweden Cultural House. "This was named a ‘Holocaust,’ and Israel is using this issue to present itself to the world as a victim, and asking for economic and political support from some countries in Europe.
"Maybe some people died, some were murdered, I don’t know, maybe thousands of Jews. But that figure of 2 million, 4 million, 6 million is a lie according to some European historians who have submitted documents."
The Foreign Ministry of Uruguay on Aug. 1 said in a statement that the Holocaust is an “undeniable historic event and denying that it happened, or questioning its extent, was equal to incitement to discrimination.” Foreign Minister Luis Almagro noted that “survivors of the Jewish Holocaust” still live in Uruguay. He added that diplomatic relations between Uruguay and Iran would not be affected by the incident.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center called on Almagro to “expel” the Iranian official for “deleting from history 6 million Holocaust victims."
The center’s Director for International Relations, Shimon Samuels, said “Iran demonstrates genocidal intent as the only state to deny the Holocaust as policy. Its nuclear designs transmit a clear message: ‘There was no Holocaust, let’s make it a reality.’ Tehran brought its terror to the continent at the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires. Now it exports its genocidal hate to neighboring Montevideo."