CAIRO -- The leader of Egypt's main Islamic opposition group said yesterday 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 website.
In Israel, the director of the Israeli branch of the Nazi watchdog group, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, warned, ''There's no question that a very ugly wave of Holocaust denial is sweeping the Arab world."
''The problem is that so far in the Arab world, very few leaders are willing to tell their own people that they have to understand that the Holocaust did take place," Efraim Zuroff said.
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.