Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has marked Holocaust Memorial Day by releasing a denial video. The leader of the theocratic nation has asked whether the Holocaust "is a reality or not".
The video titled Are The Dark Ages Over? was posted on Khamenei's official website on a day when several nations around the world marked the victims of Auschwitz and other concentration camps.
"It is Western powers headed by America that are [supporting Israel]. This is while they say in their slogans that they are opposed to terrorism and [the Islamic State terrorist group]," the narrator, who is suspected to be Khamenei himself, was heard saying in the video.
Further, the video added that Europeans are unable to answer questions regarding the veracity of Nazi Germany's atrocities against Jews. The video was also promoted by the Iranian military's Facebook page.
The narrator continued: "No one in European countries dares to speak about Holocaust while it is not clear whether the core of this matter is a reality or not. Even if it is a reality, it is not clear how it happened. Speaking about the Holocaust and expressing doubts about it is considered to be a great sin. If someone does this they stop, arrest, imprison and sue him. This is while they claim to be supporters of freedom. This is the ignorance that exists in the world today."
This is not the first time Khamenei has shown reluctance to accept the massacre of six million Jews at the hands of the Nazi regime. In 2014, the Iranian supreme leader said in an address: "The Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it's uncertain how it has happened. Expressing opinion about the Holocaust, or casting doubt on it, is one of the greatest sins in the West. They prevent this, arrest the doubters, try them while claiming to be a free country."
His latest remarks are particularly significant as Iran President Hassan Rouhani – with whom Khamenei is thought to share an uneasy relationship – is on a trip in Europe. The rift between Rouhani, a moderate, and Khamenei, a hardliner, is believed to be widening over a range of political developments both domestically and globally.