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Iran Accuses CNN of 'Mistranslating' President Rouhani on Holocaust Beliefs, Demands Apology

Iranian sources have claimed that CNN incorrectly translated a quote from President Hassan Rouhani that made him sound like he believes the Holocaust took place, and accused the American news network of "insulting the public understanding." Meanwhile, CNN has denied the accusations saying that the Iranian president was translated by a person supplied by the Iranian government itself.

Iran President Hassan Rohani
Iran's President Hassan Rohani speaks in New York September 26, 2013. |

"Now that the network knows the untrustworthiness of the translation, it has the responsibility to inform the public of the mistake and air the interview again, but this time with a deserving translation," the Iranian Fars News network said in a statement on Friday. "This plus a professional apology will be the least thing the American network can do to make up for its gross mistake, instead of whitewashing what, otherwise, would be the purposeful falsification of the remarks and views of the president of a world state and projecting the blame on others."

The incident in question refers to an interview Rouhani held with CNN's Christiane Amanpour, which aired on Wednesday, where according to the CNN translation, he says: "I am not a historian, and that 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 the Nazis committed toward the Jews, as well as non-Jewish people, was reprehensible and condemnable as far as we are concerned."

However, other translations have pointed out that the Iranian president did not say the word "Holocaust" at all, but was referring to "historical events," and also did not use the word "reprehensible."

Fars News said that as professional media, CNN has the responsibility to "provide the public with correct information in an honest and unbiased manner."

CNN has claimed, however, that the translator who worked on the interview was supplied by the Iranian government itself and not by the network. The American news network has denied mistranslating any information.

In response, Fars noted that Amanpour was raised in Iran and knows the Persian language, and should have listened to the actual interview instead of "blaming the Iran-chosen translator."

Several news headlines have tried to portray Rouhani as seeking to present a more "moderate" Iran to the world. During his week in New York, the Iranian President gave a speech to the United Nations General Assembly, and agreed to a number of other interviews with news outlets.

Although the Holocaust - the genocide of an estimated near-6 million Jews during World War II by Nazi Germany - is widely accepted in Western historical books, some countries, such as Iran, question the true extent of the massacre.

Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinjead often denied that the Holocaust took place at all. Similarly, Rouhani has said that the Nazis "committed a crime against Jews" but said that it is up to historians to determine the "scale" of the crimes.

"The massacre by the Nazis was condemnable. We never want to sit by side with the Nazis," Rouhani said in another interview, according to NBC News. However, he stopped short of specifically conceding that the Holocaust actually happened. "They committed a crime against Jews - which is a crime against Christians, against Muslims, against all of humanity."

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