September 18, 2009 / 6:07 PM / 10 years ago

German minister calls Ahmadinejad disgrace to Iran

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany’s Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier condemned Friday Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s latest denial of the Holocaust, calling him a disgrace to his country.

In a statement Steinmeier said: “Today’s statements by the Iranian President are unacceptable. With his intolerable tirades he is a disgrace to his country. This sheer anti-Semitism demands our collective condemnation. We will continue to confront it decisively in the future.”

Steinmeier’s condemnation was unprecedented in its tone.

Denying the Holocaust — carried out by Nazi Germany in World War Two — is a crime in Germany, punishable by up to five years in prison.

President Ahmadinejad raised the stakes against Israel on Friday and called the Holocaust a lie, just as world powers try to decide how to deal with the nuclear ambitions of an Iran in political turmoil.

“The pretext (Holocaust) for the creation of the Zionist regime (Israel) is false ... It is a lie based on an unprovable and mythical claim,” he told worshippers at Tehran University at the end of an annual anti-Israel “Qods (Jerusalem) Day” rally.

“Confronting the Zionist regime is a national and religious duty.”

Ahmadinejad’s comments on the Holocaust have caused international outcry and isolated Iran, which is at loggerheads with the West over its nuclear program.

Germany has been a particularly vocal critic of the Iranian leader’s Holocaust denial.

Reporting by Alexandra Hudson

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