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Iran news agency slams CNN for ‘fabricating’ Rouhani’s Holocaust remarks

Published time: September 26, 2013 12:27
Edited time: September 26, 2013 13:12
Iran's President Hasan Rowhani (AFP Photo / Atta Kenare)

Iran's President Hasan Rowhani (AFP Photo / Atta Kenare)

Iran’s state-owned Fars claims that CNN has ‘fabricated’ the remarks made by President Hassan Rouhani in response to the question about the Holocaust. The US news channel added to or changed parts of his remarks, the agency said.

On Tuesday, the newly elected Iranian president gave his first English-language TV message in an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. The interview made international headlines with hundreds of news agencies worldwide boasting titles like "Iran's President Rouhani calls Holocaust 'reprehensible' crime against Jews" or "Rouhani recognizes the Holocaust as crime against Jews".

Asking about Rouhani’s take on the Holocaust, Amanpour noted that his predecessor, President Ahmadinejad, infamously denied the Holocaust. "Do you accept what it was, and what was it?" the US journalist asked.

However, according to Iran’s Fars News Agency (FNA), the news channel made up parts of Rouhani's answers, adding the word 'Holocaust' among other placatory remarks to its translation from the answers given in Farsi.

Fars translation:

CNN translation:

"I have said before that I am not a historian and historians should specify, state and explain the aspects of historical events, but generally we fully condemn any kind of crime committed against humanity throughout history, including the crime committed by the Nazis both against the Jews and non-Jews, the same way that if today any crime is committed against any nation or any religion or any people or any belief, we condemn that crime and genocide. Therefore, what the Nazis did is condemned, [but] the aspects that you talk about, clarification of these aspects is a duty of the historians and researchers, I am not a history scholar."
"I've said before that I am not a historian and then, when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust, it is the historians that should reflect on it. But in general I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime that Nazis committed towards the Jews as well as non-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 whether that life is Jewish life, Christian or Muslim, for us it is the same, but taking the human life is something our religion rejects but this doesn’t mean that on the other hand you can say Nazis committed crime 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 even-handed discussion."

According to Fars, the word ‘Holocaust’ as well as the statement "whatever criminality they committed against the Jews, we condemn" are "the worst parts of the fabrications which totally change what President Rouhani has said."

In Rouhani’s speech to the UN General Assembly, one of the most highly anticipated of the session, the Iranian president said he was ready to immediately engage in result-oriented talks. While the West suspects Iran’s nuclear program has military aims, Rouhani said that “nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran's security and defense doctrine, and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions.”

Hopes were high that the Iranian and US presidents would hold talks in New York, or at least exchange a handshake. However, Obama and Rouhani did not meet at the UN. In Obama’s speech to the General Assembly, he challenged Iran to take concrete steps toward resolving its standoff with the West. Rouhani, a moderate who was elected president in June, said in his speech that Iran wanted the international community to recognize its right to enrich uranium. Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator, said the two states could "arrive at a framework to manage our differences" if the US did not cave in to the influence of "warmongers."

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