Ahmadinejad touts Holocaust denial as great success of his tenure
Holocaust denial is taboo in the West but he had the courage to bring up the issue, outgoing Iranian president explains.
Outgoing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday described his denial of the Holocaust as one of his greatest achievements, the Fars news agency reported.
"That was a taboo topic that no one in the West allowed to be heard," Ahmadinejad said in a speech looking back at his time in office. He had enough courage to bring up the issue, he said.
"That broke the spine of the Western capitalist regime," he claimed.
Since he was first elected in 2005, Ahmadinejad repeatedly threatened to destroy Israel and called the Holocaust a "fairy tale." His remarks led to a worldwide wave of condemnation.
About 6 million Jews were murdered in the systematic genocide that took place throughout Europe during World War II under German dictator Adolf Hitler. Holocaust denial is today illegal in Germany and other countries.
President-elect Hassan Rohani described Ahmadinejad's anti-Israel remarks as "hate rhetoric" that had brought the country to the brink of war.
Ahmadinejad also said in a Tehran ceremony organized by the government in his honor that "the name Ahmadinejad is now popular throughout the world." This was not only a success for Iranian foreign policy, he said, but had also improved Iran's image.
"I had two missions: to build up Iran and to improve the world," he said, adding that the two goals were "inseparable."
During Ahmadinejad's eight years in office, Iran was isolated not only from the West but also from most of the neighbouring Arab world.
His uncompromising nuclear policy, which other governments feared was being used to produce atomic weapons, led to financial sanctions and an economic crisis that has gripped the country for more than a year.
All six candidates in this year's presidential election and especially Rohani said during the campaign that Ahmadinejad's policies were the direct cause of the crisis.