In a cycle that has now become common under many far-right Islamist regimes, whenever an extremist group claims it is “offended” by a western country, the regime lashes out at Jews and the Holocaust. In the latest incident Pakistan’s leader Imran Khan compared “negative comments on the Holocaust” to “abuse of our Prophet” and called on Western countries to make criticism of the Prophet illegal. Khan has met with leading Holocaust denier Mahathir Mohammed, the former Malaysian leader and Khan doesn’t actually condemn Holocaust denial.  

The recent controversy began when the far-right Pakistan Islamist supremacist political party Tehreek-e-Labbaik began protests in Pakistan against France. France has told its citizens to flee Pakistan. The attacks on France are entirely invented and are commonly used in Muslim countries that have far-right governments to encourage extremism. For instance last year Turkey also attacked France, claiming it had “insulted the Prophet” leading to several terror attacks in France. Last October a student in a French school lied to her classmates claiming a teacher had “insulted” Islam and the teacher was beheaded. Then, in response to the beheading, rather than condemn the attack, Turkey mobilized its extremists to attack France. Anti-French riots and protests occurred around the Muslim world under the entirely false claim that the “Prophet had been insulted.” 

To get back at France, Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed the Holocaust last year. Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah also used Holocaust denial last year to get back at France for not being “sensitive” to religious feelings. He noted that France had prosecuted “philosopher Roger Garaudy, who wrote a book questioning the myths of the so-called Holocaust.” Malaysia’s Holocaust denier former president Mahathir Mohamad, a former guest at Oxford, Cambridge and Columbia University where his denials and antisemitic comments have been indulged, claimed that  “Muslims have a right to be angry and to kill millions of French people.” 

Iran’s regime has also pushed Holocaust denial to get back at Europe for insults to Muslims. In 2006 Iran’s regime hosted a Holocaust denial cartoon contest in revenge for cartoons against Islam in Denmark.

Now the cycle has begun again. Everytime far-right Islamists are angry at Europe for insults it is the Holocaust that has to be brought up. Most far-right Islamist groups, rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood, openly deny the Holocaust. Imran Khan, a former cricket champion who was once married to a woman who was part Jewish, didn’t actually acknowledge Holocaust denial in his tweet. He wrote “I also call on Western govts who have outlawed any negative comment on the holocaust to use the same standards to penalise those deliberately spreading their message of hate against Muslims by abusing our Prophet PBUH.” 

The tone of his tweet, like comments by other far-right Islamist leaders is to try to minimize the Holocaust, as he says “negative comments about the Holocaust,” in order to get back at European governments. European countries and their collaborators carried out the Holocaust. The same countries are the ones where there are today sometimes cartoons offensive to Muslims. It is unclear why the Islamist far-right, which denies the Holocaust at home, seeks to always bring up the Shoah, whenever they are offended by the same western countries where the Holocaust took place. These countries like Pakistan which outlaw blasphemy at home do not outlaw or ban Holocaust denial. They claim it is hypocritical of some European countries that ban Holocaust denial to not ban offensive comments about Muslims. However they don’t argue that they should also ban Holocaust denial in Iran, Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia. In the opposite, they claim that Holocaust denial is “free speech” at home.  

Malaysia’s leader, for instance, was invited to many leading western universities to push Holocaust denial. “Why is it I can’t say something against the Jews” he said at Columbia University. He wanted his “free speech” to attack Jews and the Holocaust but then complains about “free speech” in places like France that enables cartoons insulting the Prophet. None of the leaders from Khan to Mahathir, Erdogan and Ahmadinejad argued that Holocaust denial should be banned in their countries as well as blasphemy. Instead their argument is that blasphemy should be banned in Europe and that they should have a right to free speech denying the Holocaust.

In general the cycle of these groups is to encourage Holocaust denial the more they see offensive comments against Islam in Europe. This doesn’t hurt the feelings of most people in Europe, rather it targets Jews. This is because these groups are systemically anti-Jewish and their interest is not to hurt the feelings of Europeans in revenge for hurt feelings regarding their faith, but rather to justify hating Jews as a response. Khan in Pakistan claimed that extremists in Europe had indulged in Islamophobia and racist slurs “to hurt and cause pain to 1.3 billion Muslims.” The response: Attack the Holocaust, which extremists in Europe did to 6 million Jews. How reducing respect for the Holocaust gets back at France or Europeans, where Holocaust denial originated, is unclear. None of the far-right leaders from Khan to Malaysia’s leaders and those in Turkey and Iran have ever acknowledged the Holocaust and given respect to Jews, Jewish suffering, or the genocide of Jews. They use hatred of Jews to respond to Eurpean insults against Islam. 

Pakistan claims that insults to Islam are tantamount to Holocaust denial but the same Pakistan doesn’t ban Holocaust denial. The only time Khan has mentioned the Holocaust is to get back at France and inflame his base at home, not to acknowledge it.

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