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Iranian Presidential Hopeful Taleghani Says Anti-Semitism Hurts Iran's Image


Azam Taleghani

An Iranian activist who is seeking to run for president says the anti-Semitic rhetoric of some Iranian politicians damages the country's image.

Azam Taleghani, the most prominent of the 137 women who have registered to run in the May 19 election, spoke on April 18 in Tehran.

She and the other women are widely expected to be kept off the ballot by the religious establishment in Iran, where no woman has been approved to run for president since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Taleghani said that Iranians should "differentiate" between criticism of Israel's government and insulting Jews," and that Holocaust denial was the result of ignorance.

"I myself have visited Auschwitz concentration camp and I understood what a crime and a humanitarian tragedy happened back then," she said.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has made several slurs against Israel, including calling it an "illegitimate entity."

The European Parliament last year condemned what it said was "the Iranian regime’s repeated calls for the destruction of Israel and the regime’s policy of denying the Holocaust."

Taleghani, 72, has applied twice before to run for president but was rejected both times by the country's Guardians Council, with no reason given.

"Women make up 50 percent of the Iranian population so the country deserves at least one female candidate," said Taleghani, who is secretary-general of the Islamic Revolution Women's Society and was elected to parliament in 1980.