“The Zionist regime will disappear soon, the same way the Soviet Union disappeared,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said, according to ISNA, a government-financed news agency. Thus, “humanity will achieve freedom.”
He also suggested that the work of the government-sponsored conference — billed as a chance for “both sides” on the Holocaust to be heard — should continue with formation of a committee to determine whether the mass killings by Nazis of Jews and others really happened.
Mr. Ahmadinejad said the West had used the Holocaust as propaganda to dominate the Middle East.
The conference continued to draw outrage among foreign leaders.
Prime Minister Tony Blair called it “shocking beyond belief,” Agence France-Presse reported. “I think it is such a symbol of sectarianism and hatred towards people of another religion, I find it just unbelievable.”
The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, condemned “in the strongest terms” dismissals of the Holocaust by “revisionist” historians, and the Vatican described the Holocaust as an “appalling tragedy to which one cannot remain indifferent.”
The French foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, called “the resurgence of revisionist ideas” on the Holocaust “unacceptable.”
Although the conference, held by the Foreign Ministry, was said to be a chance for scholars to debate the Holocaust, the second day was much like the first. Most speakers, a group that included discredited scholars and a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, called the systematic annihilation of six million Jews a lie fabricated to form the state of Israel.
The former Klan leader, David Duke, said in an interview on Tuesday, “I think Israel is more afraid of this conference than of Iran having nuclear weapons,” and “They are afraid a taboo has been broken.”
Mr. Duke said he was at the conference to support freedom of speech.
Despite the promises of open-mindedness, when one participant talked about the scholarship confirming the Holocaust, his views were quickly dismissed.
That speaker, an Iranian historian, Gholamreza Vatandoust, from Shiraz University, said, “Some facts about the Holocaust have been documented.” But he was criticized immediately by Robert Faurisson, a French academic, who said he had never found documents to support the Holocaust.
One of a few ultra-Orthodox rabbis at the conference, Moshe Ayre Friedman from Austria, said, “I am not a denier of the Holocaust, but I think it is legitimate to cast doubt on some statistics.”