THE Tehran conference, Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision, has brought together an extraordinary cast of characters from outside Iran. Many of them are familiar and discredited Holocaust deniers, but who has ever heard of the organisation Jews United Against Israel which is represented at the conference by several rabbis, one based in Britain? It is difficult to understand what President Ahmadinejad expects to gain from holding this bizarre and distasteful event. To suggest, as he has done on several occasions, that it will determine whether the Holocaust ever took place, or on the scale generally accepted, cannot really be his purpose because these questions have been asked many times and categorically answered in the affirmative on the basis of irrefutable evidence. His foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, has rationalised the conference's pupose as being to counter the lack of free speech in the west about the Holocaust which is used to justify Israel's oppression of the Palestinian people. In fact the reverse is the case. How often does one hear disbelief that a people who suffered to greatly in the Holocaust can be so indifferent to the sufferings of the Palestinians? Meanwhile in Tehran there has been evidence that not all free speech has become the victikm of conformity. When President Ahmadinejad address students at a leading university this week he was greeted with abuse and firecrackers and protests against State control of university courses and student's organisations. We only want freedom of expression read one placard.
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