President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is to give a personal audience to a delegation of foreign academics – including Britons – attending a Teheran conference that will question whether the Holocaust took place.
The two-day "Review of the Holocaust: global vision" conference, which begins tomorrow, is expected to include more than 60 foreign researchers from 30 countries, including known anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers. Ahmadinejad has caused international outrage by describing the Holocaust as a "myth" and calling for Israel to be "wiped off the map".
Despite condemnation of Teheran for hosting the conference, foreign delegates arriving in the capital have said that they are hopeful of a personal meeting with the Iranian president.
Fredrick Toben, a German-born Holocaust denier who lives in Australia and who has been convicted in Germany of inciting racial hatred, told The Sunday Telegraph: "I would be disappointed if I was not to meet him, although I can't tell you any more than that. It's like meeting the Queen in England – I wouldn't comment beforehand."
Neither the Foreign Office nor the Iranian embassy in London was able to provide details of Britons invited to the event, but Toben, who is staying with other delegates in a government guesthouse in Teheran, said they were to be joined by Michele Renouf, an eccentric socialite and friend of David Irving, the Right-wing historian who was sentenced to three years' jail in Austria last February after disputing the existence of gas chambers at Auschwitz.
Originally from Australia, Lady Renouf was thrown out of London's Reform Club in 2003 after trying to get Mr Irving invited to speak there. In an interview in 2003 she described Judaism as a "creed of domination and racial superiority". Last month she was banned from addressing the far-Right British National Party, because it believed that her views were extreme.
Toben said: "I understand she is on a flight already. It will be her first visit to Teheran."
Iran's deputy foreign minister, Manouchehr Mohammadi, said last week that the conference was being staged because of the lack of answers to questions posed by Ahmadinejad.
Literature for the conference, hosted by Iran's Institute for Political and International Studies, describes the Holocaust as "one of the most important propaganda tools to politically justify the support for the Jewish people in the 20th century". [...]
Saturday, December 09, 2006
And the delegates arrive: