TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran hosted Holocaust deniers from around the world yesterday at a conference examining whether the Nazi genocide took place, a meeting Israel’s prime minister condemned as a “sick phenomenon.”

The 67 participants from 30 countries included former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and Holocaust skeptics who have been prosecuted in Europe for questioning whether 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis or whether gas chambers were ever used.

“The number of victims at the Auschwitz concentration camp could be about 2,007,” Australian Frederick Toben told the conference, according to a Farsi translation of his remarks. “The railroad to the camp did not have enough capacity to transfer large numbers of Jews,” said Toben, who was jailed in 1999 in Germany for casting doubt on the Holocaust.

The two-day conference was initiated by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an apparent attempt to burnish his status as a tough opponent of Israel. The hard-line president has described the Holocaust as a “myth” and called for Israel to be wiped off the map. Earlier this year, his government backed an exhibition of anti-Israel cartoons in a show of defiance after Danish cartoons caricaturing Islam’s Prophet Muhammad were published in Europe, raising an outcry among Muslims.

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