The Iran International news organization reported that Greco-Roman wrestler Mohammad Ali Geraei, who finished in fifth place at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, cited Hitler as well as boxing legend Muhammad Ali as his inspirations while talking to an Iranian publication on Saturday.

Israel’s official Persian-language Twitter page condemned Geraei’s comments, saying in a post, “The problem is the ayatollahs’ anti-Semitic government that presents the biggest criminal in history as a hero. Like Hitler, the ayatollahs sacrifice the Iranian people for their goals.”

Israel’s English-language Twitter account added, “Our role models: parents, teachers, doctors. Iranian wrestling champion Mohammad Ali Geraei’s role model: Hitler. … When the Iranian regime normalizes anti-Semitism and violence against Jews, this is the result.”

Sardar Pashaei, an Iranian activist who was a Greco-Roman wrestling champion and former head coach of Iran’s Greco-Roman wrestling team, told The Jerusalem Post he was “very sad” to see how Iranian athletes “have become government puppets and have to learn the lesson of hate instead of friendship.”

Geraei’s words are like rubbing salt on the wounds of millions of people whose families were victims of hatred,” said Pashaei, who is now an American citizen.

“The International Olympic Committee should end appeasement with Iran, and ban the presence of officials and athletes who are part of the Iranian government’s repression and hatred apparatus,” he added. “We will soon send a letter to the World Wrestling Federation and demand the suspension of Ali Geraei for his anti-Semitic comments.”

Geraei was a bronze medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling at the 2017, 2019 and 2021 World Championships and took home a gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games.

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