(JTA) — French Jews protested the arrival of Iran’s president in Paris, saying it was particularly unacceptable because the visit fell on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Hassan Rouhani, who postponed a November visit to France because of the terrorist attacks that killed 130 in Paris that month, landed in the French capital on Wednesday.
“The world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day while France welcomes the Iranian president,” CRIF, the umbrella group of French Jewish communities, wrote on Twitter. “We say ‘no’ to Rouhani.”
Rouhani’s five-day visit to Italy and France, which will end Friday, is the first by an Iranian president in nearly two decades, as Tehran seeks to rebuild economic ties and secure new trade deals following the lifting of international sanctions over its nuclear program.
Speaking Tuesday at the French National Assembly, the lower house, lawmaker Meyer Habib, a former CRIF vice president, cited Iran’s track record of promoting Holocaust denial, threatening to destroy Israel and its human rights violations as incompatible with French values and those being commemorated on Jan. 27.
Both CRIF and Habib opposed hosting Rouhani in Paris regardless of the date.
Marceline Loridan-Ivens, a Holocaust survivor, and Simone Rodan-Benzaquen, the Europe director of the American Jewish Committee, also lamented the timing of the visit, calling it “laughable” in an Op-Ed they coauthored that was published Tuesday by Atlantico.fr, a centrist news and analysis site. They proposed that French President Francois Hollande invite Rouhani to visit a local Holocaust commemoration site with him.