Ahmadinejad, Iran - AP archive - 18.5.10
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran, Tuesday, May 18, 2010. Photo by AP
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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Friday that the Holocaust was a "big lie" used to justify establishment of the state of Israel.

 "The Zionist regime's establishment was based on numerous deceptions and lies and one of the biggest lies was the Holocaust," Ahmadinejad said in a speech after an anti-Israeli rally in Tehran and other Iranian cities.

The late supreme leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, declared the last Friday of the fasting month of Ramadan to be Qods, or Jerusalem, Day and called for annual mass rallies against Israel and in support of the Palestinians.

The president provoked international condemnation in 2005 when he said that Israel should be eliminated from the map of the Middle East and transferred to Europe or North America.

The international isolation of the Islamic republic escalated after Ahmadinejad held a Holocaust conference in 2006 in which he questioned whether the killing of 6 million Jews in Europe during World War II actually happened.

"On the one hand we have the Zionist regime as the global axis of thieves and murderers and on the other hand we have the Qods Day which is the axis of those seeking freedom, justice and end of suppression," the president reiterated Friday at Tehran University.

The crowd at the university greeted the president's remarks with cries of Allah Akbar, meaning God is great, and by chanting anti-Israel slogans.

According to state television, millions of people attended the state-run anti-Israel rallies throughout the country to voice their support for Palestinians and its liberation from what they called Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Ahmadinejad on Wednesday called for the eradication of Israel, saying that Iran would "never ever withdraw from this standpoint and policy."