Iran Launches Holocaust Denial Cartoon Contest

Charlie Hebdo 1/14
Charlie Hebdo/Liberation

On Thursday, Iran launched its second international competition based on the theme of Holocaust denial. The 2nd International Holocaust Cartoons Contest was organized by Iran’s House of Cartoons and the Sarcheshmeh Cultural Complex in reaction to French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo‘s publication of Muhammad.

According to the Tehran Times, the first place winners will receive a cash prize of $12,000, second place will receive $8000, and third place will receive $5000.

All cartoon submissions must reportedly be received by April 1 because “April 1 is the day of big lies, and the Holocaust is a big lie that the Zionists invented to suppress the Palestinians,” Masoud Shojaei-Tabatabaii told NBC. Tabatabaii heads the House of Cartoons in Tehran and is one of the competition’s organizers.

Iran has openly stated that it supports Hamas and Hezbollah, and former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had proudly said that Holocaust denial was one of the greatest achievements of his presidency. One of the questions Holocaust denial participants were asked to address in their cartoons was “If the West says that freedom of speech has no borders then why don’t they let historians and experts properly research the Holocaust?” notes NBC.

The Holocaust is seen as one of the most devastating human tragedies in recent times, and it resulted in the systematic murder of six million Jews. The commencement of Iran’s retaliatory and inaccurate Holocaust denial event arrived just weeks after the 70th anniversary of liberation from Auschwitz, the most notorious concentration camp in the Holocaust.

Iran’s first Holocaust denial cartoons contest was held in 2005, after Danish newspaper Jyllands-Postens published cartoons depicting Muhammad; the most well-known of the series was a caricature of Muhammad’s head dressed with a black turban with a bomb in it and brandishing the “shahada” (or Islamic profession of faith). Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard drew the image. He has been under police protection and living in fear of his life ever since a 2010 attack on him as a direct result of his work.

The winner of the 2005 contest was a Moroccan cartoonist named Abdellah Derkaoui. His drawing depicted an Israeli crane constructing a wall, with a concentration camp painted on it, around Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock. The Dome of the Rock is situated next to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount, which bears great significance for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

The Temple Mount is seen as the holiest place on earth for Jews and the site of the first and second temples. It is also seen as the place where the third and final temple will be built with the coming of their Messiah. For Muslims, the Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest place on earth, after their holy places of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.

The top-selected Holocaust denial cartoons will be displayed in Tehran’s Palestine Museum of Contemporary Art.

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter @AdelleNaz.


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