Iranian Health Ministry Sponsors Coronavirus Cartoon Contest with Antisemitic Submissions

cartoon by Amir Hossein Jafari Nejadian
Amir Hossein Jafari Nejadian/Irancartoon

The Iranian Health Ministry took a break from lying about how many people have died in Iran from the Wuhan virus to sponsor a “We Defeat Corona” cartoon contest, which reportedly received over 4,200 submissions from entrants in 88 countries — including the source of the pandemic, China. Many of those submissions were antisemitic or anti-American in character.

Sharon S. Nazarian, senior vice president of the Anti-Defamation League, collected a few unpleasant examples:

A running theme in these cartoon submissions was that Americans and/or Jews created the coronavirus and released it deliberately, in line with the feverish conspiracy theories favored by Iranian officials and state media. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated terrorist organization, has been insisting for months that the pandemic is a “biological warfare” attack by the United States, with assistance from Israel.

The Tehran Times quoted Iranian officials who said some 2,000 cartoons were displayed for 28 days on a website that drew over 1.3 million visitors. 

The Algemeiner noted that the organizer of two notorious Holocaust-denial cartoon contests, Masoud Shojaei-Tabatabaei, was also involved in this one. The Algemeiner added descriptions of a few more of the unsavory submissions:

One entry showed a coronavirus missile being launched from the US with an accompanying note from US President Donald Trump that read, “To China and Iran, with my love.”

Another showed an Iranian man coughing while carrying a coronavirus microbe on his shoulder, as an enlarged hand draped in the American flag snatches vital medication away from behind his back.

Iran’s officially reported tally of 76,389 infections and 4,777 deaths as of Wednesday is viewed with increasing skepticism by outside observers. The BBC is among many foreign media outlets to notice that the pile of body bags accumulating in Iranian morgues suggests a far higher number of fatalities. 

The regime in Tehran cannot conceal the evidence of these deaths because Iranian tradition demands ritual body washing before burial, and finding people willing to wash the corpses of coronavirus patients is proving difficult. The authorities were, however, able to marshal the manpower to track down and arrest the mortuary worker who posted a viral video of bodies stacked up at his morgue.

The BBC cited an MIT/Virginia Tech model that estimated the true number of deaths in Iran surpassed 15,000 in March, and there could be almost a million infections. Even the Iranian parliament published a report from its research center on Wednesday that said the true death toll was more than double the official number and infections have passed 760,000, giving Iran the largest coronavirus outbreak in the world.


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