Tehran’s city hall is offering a $50,000 prize for the best cartoon mocking the Holocaust, as part of the 11th Tehran International Cartoon Biennial to be held next June.
“We do not mean to approve or deny the Holocaust, however, the main question is that why is there no permission to talk about the Holocaust despite [the West’s] belief in freedom of speech,” contest organizer Masud Shojai-Tabatabai told the state-run IRNA news agency. “Moreover, why should the oppressed people of Palestine pay the price for the Holocaust?”
Holocaust cartoon contests are not uncommon in Iran. A similar contest was held earlier this year, featuring hundreds of submissions of anti-Semitic art. According to Iran’s Fars news agency, the rationale for the contest was “aimed at testing the West’s tolerance towards the Holocaust,” because of “the West’s double standard behavior towards freedom of expression as it allows sacrilege of Islamic sanctities…but prevents research on the Holocaust due to the Zionist regime’s steadfast opposition.”
Though the contest is presented as a challenge to the West’s concept of freedom of speech, it comes at a time that Tehran is increasingly cracking down on individual freedoms. Two poets poets was sentenced to lashes and jail time in October for shaking hands with members of the opposite sex. The country was criticized last month by Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations official in charge of monitoring human rights in Iran, after five journalists were arrested. Iran “should not silence critical or dissenting voices under the guise of vague and unsubstantiated national security concerns,” Shaheed said.
Iranian politicians who are often described as “moderates” by the international media, including President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, have refused to condemn the Holocaust in a straightforward manner. In contrast, Iranian political and military leaders over the years have been very clear about their genocidal aims toward Israel.
The event next June will also have a separate contest to mock Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
[Photo: ISCAorg CH / YouTube ]