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Friday 21 July 2017

Trump condemns Holocaust deniers as 'accomplices of evil'

Donald Trump speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington (AP)
Donald Trump speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington (AP)

US president Donald Trump has condemned those who deny the Holocaust and pledged to confront anti-Semitism.

In a speech marking Holocaust Remembrance Day, Mr Trump said those who would deny that six million Jews were killed by Germany's Nazi leadership during the Second World War "are an accomplice of this horrible evil".

The US president added: "We must never, ever shrink away from telling the truth in our time."

Mr Trump also pledged that as president of the United States, he will "always stand with the Jewish people".

The president spoke at a US Capitol ceremony hosted by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum to mark the unveiling of its new conservation and research centre.

The centre houses a vast collection of artefacts by those who survived Adolf Hitler's massacre.

Members of Congress and Holocaust survivors - whose strength and courage Mr Trump said was an inspiration - attended the emotional event in the Rotunda, the centre of the Capitol.

Survivors lit candles at the end of the ceremony.

"Those who deny the Holocaust are an accomplice to this horrible evil and we'll never be silent. We just won't," he said.

"We will never, ever be silent in the face of evil again."

Mr Trump said Holocaust denial is one form of "dangerous anti-Semitism that continues all around the world" and that can be seen on university campuses, in attacks on Jewish communities "or when aggressors threaten Israel with total and complete destruction".

"This is my pledge to you: We will confront anti-Semitism," he added.

"We will stamp out prejudice, we will condemn hatred, we will bear witness and we will act.

"As President of the United States, I will always stand with the Jewish people and I will always stand with our great friend and partner, the state of Israel."

Mr Trump's commemoration of the Holocaust follows a recent blunder by his chief spokesman, Sean Spicer, on the issue.

Mr Spicer recently apologised for making what he later said was an "inappropriate and insensitive" statement earlier this month that compared Hitler to Syrian president Bashar Assad by suggesting that Hitler "didn't even sink to using chemical weapons".

The remark, which Mr Spicer had made days after a chemical attack in Syria killed scores of civilians, ignored Hitler's use of gas chambers to kill Jews.

The White House's commitment to fighting anti-Semitism was questioned earlier in the year after it released a statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day that excluded any mention of the Jewish people, in contrast to similar statements from previous administrations.

Mr Trump's own relations with American Jews had become strained after a testy exchange during a news conference with a reporter for an Orthodox Jewish publication.

Some also thought Mr Trump had waited too long to come out forcefully against bomb threats against Jewish community centres nationwide.

Mr Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, converted to Judaism before marrying her husband, Jared Kushner, now a senior White House adviser.

On an official trip to Berlin on Tuesday, Ms Trump, now working at the White House as an assistant to the president, visited the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

Addressing survivors in attendance at the Capitol, Mr Trump called each one a "beacon of light".

"It only takes one light to illuminate even the darkest space, just like it takes only truth to crush a thousand lies and one hero to change the course of history," he said.

"We know that in the end good will triumph over evil and that as long as we refuse to close our eyes or to silence our voices, we know that justice will ultimately prevail."

AP

Press Association

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