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Interview With Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

A. Who is the world here?

Q. Iran is trying to improve its relationship with the West, as I understand it. It is clear that there was a Holocaust. Why would you say there was no Holocaust? Do you feel there should be no Jewish state -- no Israel?

A. What I am saying is extremely clear. It is an academic approach to a crucial subject and also one based on humanitarian considerations. What I am saying here is that in past history many events have happened and in World War II many crimes were committed. Over 60 million people were killed and even more were displaced. So we have several specific questions with regard to the events of World War II and I believe we cannot find the answers to these questions through the propaganda that is promoted by the media. In the end, the questions need convincing answers. The first question that I have to try and understand is why in the midst of all that happened in World War II, the Holocaust is emphasized more than any other [event]?

Q. Let's say that Stalin's crimes were equally great.

A. The second question is, why do Western politicians focus on this issue so much? The third question is how does that event connect with issues that we see around us in the world today? Was this a historical event that happened in isolation without impacting the present conditions? The next question we should ask ourselves is if the event did take place, where did it happen, who were the perpetrators, what was the role of the Palestinian people? What crime have they committed to deserve what they have received as a result? Why exactly should the Palestinian people be victimized? Are you aware that over 5 million Palestinians have been displaced and have had refugee status? What role did they play in the Holocaust? Why is the Holocaust used as a pretext to occupy the land of other people? Why should the Palestinian people give their lives up for it? You are probably aware that there have been embargos on the people of Gaza.

Q. And they have been hitting Israel with missiles.

A. In the end of the day the people in Gaza are sitting in their homes living their lives and staying in their homeland. Who is the occupier here? The United Nations resolutions issued condemn which occupying regime? What fair-minded person can accept that an event that happened in Europe [results] in having his or her land occupied elsewhere in the world? If a crime happened in Europe, why should the people of Palestine make up for it? It is a really clear-cut question. Unfortunately Western politicians refuse to answer these questions and divert into other areas. We are primarily opposed to the murder of human beings. Sixty million people were killed back then [in World War II] and it is indeed regrettable. It does not matter what creed or belief they came from -- human beings and their lives are to be respected simply because they are human beings. I would like to emphasize that we are not living 60 years ago -- we are living today. We see the Holocaust as a pretext to commit genocide against the Palestinian people.

Q. We have heard a lot about the debated election in June. There was a lot of contention as to whether or not you stole the election. Are you planning to put Mr. Mousavi on trial? Why is the right-wing press going after [Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi] Rafsanjani?

A. In Iran people in different groups are free to determine what kind of political path they would like to pursue. Elections in Iran are carried out within the framework of the law and they are free. In every election only one person can win. I remember that in my first election run against Mr. Rafsanjani, the very same people who are now opposed to the results of the most recent election were actually running the last election between Mr. Rafsanjani and myself in 2005. The people on his side were the ones who carried out the elections. That is the election in 2005. In the end I think it is all propaganda and I don't pay it much attention. I don't want to take anyone to court.

Q. Mousavi will not be put on trial?

A. That depends on the judiciary. It has nothing to do with the government. If there are any violations the court will handle it. If not, no.

Q. Mr. President, many people in and outside the country are concerned about the way that people who demonstrated against the election have been treated. One of the other Presidential candidates allegedly has evidence that people have been tortured and raped and many people outside the country are concerned about their trials. Are you prepared to discuss these human rights issues at the upcoming meeting in Geneva?

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