Cairo, Egypt — The leader of Egypt's main Islamic opposition group said Thursday the Holocaust was a "myth," and he slammed Western governments for criticizing disclaimers of the Jewish genocide.
The comments by Muslim Brotherhood chief Mohammed Mahdi Akef - made on the heels of his group's strong showing in Egyptian parliamentary elections - echoed remarks made recently by Iran's hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which sparked international outrage.
"Western democracies have slammed all those who don't see eye to eye with the Zionists regarding the myth of the Holocaust," Akef wrote in a weekly article meant as a directive to the group's followers on its official Web site.
Akef's hard-line rhetoric was in contrast to the moderate tone the Brotherhood took in November and December parliamentary elections, during which it played down its calls for implementing Shariah, or Islamic law, in Egypt and instead touted itself as a pro-democracy movement.
The outlawed Brotherhood surprised many with its election showing, winning 88 seats in the legislature - about 20 percent of the body - and establishing itself as the top opposition bloc.
In his article, Akef lashed out at the United States and other Western powers for what he described as a campaign against Islam.
"These words are meant to expose the false American rule which has become a nightmare of a new world order," Akef said.
"I am making these comments to all free people in the world, aiming to wake up the conscience in humanity. The sword of democracy is only unsheathed against those who raise the flag of Islam."
Similar comments by Ahmadinejad earlier this month sparked an international outcry. The Iranian president called the Holocaust - in which an estimated 6 million Jews were killed - a "myth" and said Europeans have used it to create a Jewish state in the heart of the Islamic world.
He also said Israel should be "wiped off the map."
Arab governments and media did not condemn Ahmadinejad's remarks.
It was not clear why Akef made the remarks, but his article was full of criticism of Western democracy, which he said "was drawn up by the sons of Zion."
Akef did not take a question about his statement when telephoned by The Associated Press.