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German president rebuked for heralding Iran on 40th year of Islamic Revolution

This isn’t the first time that German President Frank Walter-Steinmeier has raised eyebrows with his conciliatory approach to Iran.

German President Frank Walter-Steinmeier, Feb. 13, 2016. Credit: Kleinschmidt/MSC via Wikimedia Commons.
German President Frank Walter-Steinmeier, Feb. 13, 2016. Credit: Kleinschmidt/MSC via Wikimedia Commons.

German President Frank Walter-Steinmeier was criticized for sending Iran a congratulatory telegram on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Republic’s founding, Benjamin Weinthal reported in The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.

In a statement to the Post, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said that the center “condemns German President’s congratulations to the most dangerous regime in the world, who are religious bigots, who hang Gays, and threaten genocide against Israel–home to the largest Jewish community in the world. When will he condemn their Holocaust denial?”

The telegram from Steinmeier said that he sends “ ‘Congratulations’ on the occasion of the national holiday, ‘also in the name of my compatriots,”‘ Bild, Germany’s largest circulation newspaper reported.

“Mass executions and torture; the brutal persecution of women, minorities, and the opposition; the installation of an Islamist terror state that threatens to annihilate Israel, that covers the Middle East with its militias, and that denies the Holocaust,” Bild reported. “All of this started in Iran on 11 February, 1979, the day of the ‘Islamic Revolution,’ when the mullahs seized power in Tehran.”

Antje Schippmann, who wrote the Bild report, observed: “There is not a word of criticism concerning Tehran’s murderous attacks in Europe or its billions for financing terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.”

This isn’t the first time that Steinmeier has raised eyebrows with his conciliatory approach to Iran.

In 2008, when he was foreign minister, Steinmeier hosted Iran’s then-Foreign Minister Javad Ardashir Larijani. Larijani was permitted to call for Israel’s destruction and denied the Holocaust—not far from Berlin’s Holocaust memorial—at a foreign ministry event.

More recently, the German president has assured Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, that Germany is doing “everything in its power to guarantee the maintenance and continued implementation of the JCPOA [the 2015 Iran nuclear deal].”

Frank Müller-Rosentritt, a foreign-policy expert with Germany’s Free Democratic Party, told Bild that Steinmeier’s uncritical praise of Iran must be unsettling for the Jewish state. “For our friends in Israel, who are subject to Iran’s permanent threats of annihilation, this must feel like a slap in the face,” he said.

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