TEHRAN (Reuters) - An Iranian Internet site for devotees of Nazi Germany has been allowed to reopen after being blocked briefly by government censors, a news website reported, raising questions about the official attitude to anti-Semitism.
The site, irannazi.ir, says it is the home of the “Historical Research Society for World War Two and the Third Reich.” According to conservative news website TABNAK it was blocked temporarily but then reopened, saying the suspension had been due to complaints by Iranian Jews.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has many times denied the Nazis’ extermination of millions of Jews during World War II. Ahmadinejad angered Israel and its allies by calling the Holocaust a “myth” and a “lie” and has predicted the end of Israel as a state.
Israel, which Iran refuses to recognize, has warned Iran over its nuclear program which Tehran says is purely peaceful but which many countries fear could be a cover for developing nuclear weapons.
Iran is under a fourth round of U.N. sanctions aimed at persuading it to curb its uranium enrichment and has indicated willingness to resume talks with world powers next month after they stalled over a year ago.
Both Israel and its key ally the United States say they do not rule out military action against Iran if diplomacy fails to stop it acquiring nuclear arms.
In Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said: “Ahmadinejad is a well-known, self-professed Holocaust denier who rewrites history. What’s new here?”
“Now we have an additional piece of evidence for his regime’s sympathies,” Palmor said.
When Reuters tried to access the site on Monday it was blocked by the state filter which prevents access to many sites, but it was visible on computers using a proxy server — a way many Iranians subvert restrictions on the Internet.
The Culture Ministry was not available to comment.
The Nazi website does not appear in any way linked to the Iranian state, but with strict controls on the Internet blocking many sites deemed undesirable, TABNAK criticized the government for granting permission to the Nazi website.
“Why has the Culture Ministry given permission to the so-called Iran’s Nazism society ... we hope the authorities have a proper reason for that,” TABNAK said.
Considered close to Ahmadinejad’s electoral rival Mohsen Rezaie, TABNAK said the website was dedicated to “spreading (Adolf) Hitler’s fascistic ideologies.”
“It had once been blocked but then unblocked,” TABNAK said.
“Does it mean the activities of this extremist cult have been approved by our authorities?”
Most of the website, which includes images of Nazi military equipment and symbols, including the swastika, is reserved for registered users.
TABNAK quoted the site’s explanation of why it was blocked.
“It was filtered only because of insulting religious minorities or, rather, Jews,” TABNAK quoted a statement on the website as saying.
“And because Jews have always used their power and influence for their advantage, we were not an exception (to this) and only after 17 days we became the target of these creatures and we faced this problem because of Jews’ personal complaints.”
Iran is home to one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities and some 25,000 Jews still live there and are recognized by the Islamic state as an official religious minority.