Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic guidance lifted the block it had imposed on a pro-Nazi and anti-Jewish website, amid concerns by both conservatives and reformists.
While it blocks around five million political, cultural, religious, and “indecent” websites, the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance permitted the operation of a website called irannazi.ir, also called the Center for Historical Studies on World War I and Nazism.” The website is run by a group called the Center for Nazi Iranian Studies.
The re-opening of the website was met with objections in Iranian political circles, which was shown in the reactions of both the pro-government website Tabnak and the pro-reformist Rooz Online.
Tabnak demanded that the Iranian government provides an explanation for allowing the website to operate while Rooz Online accused deputy minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance is Muhammad Ali Ramin of being behind lifting the ban on the website.
Rooz reported that Ramin had connections with neo-Nazis when he lived in Europe and that he is known for his support for Nazi ideas.
Ramin is also the founder of the Holocaust Institute in Tehran and was the president of a conference called Holocaust: A Global Perspective, which denied the extermination of Jews by the German Third Reich.
Iranian journalist Mohammad Reza Yazdanpanah argued that Ramin plays a major role in influencing the policies of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as far as denying the Holocaust is concerned.
"Right after the ministry unblocked it, the website attracted 300 new members and received more than 3,200 emails in support of the group," said Yazdanpanah.
The website claims that its main purpose is to expose the lies propagated by Zionists about the persecution of Jews during the Second World War and its members describe themselves as the soldiers of Hitler who want to make the “lie of the holocaust” known to the whole world.
The website published a statement about the previous ban imposed on it after its administrators were accused of insulting religious minorities. After the re-launch, they called on visitors to use the word “Zionist” instead of “Jew.”
The website has several chat rooms that are categorized according to the topics users want to discuss like Third Reich, Second World War, principles of Nazism, and the ideas of Adolf Hitler.
[Ahwazi] activist Kawthar Ali argued that the adoption of Nazi principles and the prevalence of anti-Semitic trends in Iran also give rise to other extremist ideologies, especially against the Arab minority.
“Allowing neo-Nazis to propagate their ideas is bound to harm Arabs more than Jews,” he told AlArabiya.net. “We have to remember that Hitler despised Arabs as much as he despised Jews because they are also Semites.”
Ali pointed out that the Iranian government uses such extremist trends to serve its interests and to propagate nationalist ideologies that assert the superiority of Persians.
“There are several Machiavellian circles in Iran that are using neo-Nazism to revive the nationalist trend started by Reza Shah Pahlavi when he embarked on a campaign to erase Arab identity and make Iran exclusively Persian.”
Ali cited the example of communists who originally called for social justice but are now adopting extremist nationalist ideas.
“For example Heshmat Raeisi, one of the most prominent labor movement leaders, is now advocating Persian nationalism in a country that houses a variety of ethnicities.”
When asked for the reason ideas propagated during the Shah’s era are gaining momentum now even though the founder of the Islamic republic Ayatollah Khomeini was against the division of Iran along ethnic or nationalist lines, Ali attributed this contradiction to loss of faith.
“This is all happening because of the weakness of faith and this led to loss of solidarity,” he concluded.