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Obama administration rips Khamenei Holocaust denial as ‘abhorrent’

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration condemned the latest Holocaust denial by Iran’s supreme leader.

“Unfortunately, these statements are nothing new,” Marie Harf, the State Department spokeswoman, said at the Wednesday briefing for reporters. “They’re inflammatory. They’re, quite frankly, abhorrent. And it’s insulting to the millions of people who died in the Holocaust.”

On March 21, in a speech marking Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei questioned the Holocaust in the context of rejecting as hypocritical Western criticism of Iranian speech restrictions.

“Absolute #freedom doesn’t exist anywhere in world,” an English-language Twitter account in Khamenei’s name said as it relayed quotes from the speech. “Even countries that claim 2 have freedom, set redlines on which they’re utterly strict,” it said. “Does anybody dare talk about #Holocaust in Europe? #freedom.”

In a follow-up, the account tweeted, “#Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it’s uncertain how it has happened.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, then newly elected, and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif drew much attention late last year for acknowledging the Holocaust.

Rouhani has since qualified his remarks under pressure from hardliners in the Iranian regime, reflecting an Iranian policy — often expressed by Khamenei — of questioning whether the Holocaust occurred or if it is exaggerated.

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