President Hassan Rouhani called the Holocaust a “reprehensible” crime against the Jewish people in a September 24 interview with CNN. “The taking of human life is contemptible. It makes no difference if that life is Jewish life, Christian or Muslim,” said Rouhani. His remarks contrasted sharply with former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial. Rouhani actually brought Iran's sole Jewish lawmaker, Siamak Moreh Sedgh, with him to New York for the U.N. General Assembly opening. The following are excerpts from Rouhani’s interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.
“I am not a historian and when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust it is the historians that should reflect. But in general I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime the Nazis created towards the Jews, is reprehensible and condemnable.
“Whatever criminality they committed against the Jews we condemn. The taking of human life is contemptible. It makes no difference if that life is Jewish life, Christian or Muslim. For us it is the same.
“This does not mean that on the other hand you can say 'Nazis committed crimes against a group, now therefore they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it. This too is an act that should be condemned. There should be an evenhanded discussion.”