Iran Holocaust Cartoon Contest Kicks Off
Nasser Karimi, The Associated Press:
An Iranian newspaper's contest for cartoons about the Holocaust, launched Monday in response to a series of caricatures about the Prophet Mohammed, has already drawn at least one entry, the paper said.
Hamshahri, one of Iran's top five newspapers, said its contest was a test of the Western world's readiness to print cartoons about the Nazi slaughter of 6 million Jews in World War II. It called for cartoons under the title: "What is the Limit of Western Freedom of Expression?" READ MORE
The caricatures of the prophet, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper and were reprinted in several European newspapers that cited freedom of expression, have outraged Muslims and generated protests worldwide.
The first entry in the Iranian contest depicts a man smoking a cigarette and wearing a blue and white striped prison uniform, with a tall wall and guard tower in the background.
The man, with a mustache and several days growth of beard, is wearing a white keffiyeh and is holding his right hand over his forehead and eyes.
On his chest is a red Muslim crescent with a letter "P." Below that is the number 7256, the significance of which was not immediately clear, although Israel is said to be holding about 8,000 Palestinian prisoners.
The Brazilian artist listed as the author of the cartoon could not immediately be reached to confirm the entry was by him.
Masoud Shojai, chairman of the committee that will judge the contest, said an Australian was among those who sent entries to the contest last week before it was officially opened.
But Michael Leunig, one of Australia's best-known cartoonists, on Tuesday denied entering two of his works in the contest, saying he was the victim of fraud.
"I learned last night that some of my cartoons from a few years back have been submitted as an entry in that competition," Leunig told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. "This is a fraud and hoax emanating, we believe, from Australia."
Leunig said had been contacted late Monday by a concerned editor at Melbourne's The Age newspaper, which publishes many of his cartoons.
An Iranian Web site for cartoonists carried a reproduction of the Brazilian entry and printed a notice at the top of the page that indicated it might also be connected to a conference sponsored by Iran's Foreign Ministry to examine what it called the scientific evidence surrounding the Holocaust.
An English-language notice on the site warned that it "possibly will be closed by United States." It then provided links to three other sites.
"We don't intend retaliation over the drawings of the prophet. We just want to show that freedom is restricted in the West," said Davood Kazemi, executive manager of the contest and cartoon editor at the paper since 1992.
The contest opened more than four months after the caricatures of the prophet first were printed in Denmark and amid widespread protests in much of the Muslim world, where the cartoons were deemed insulting to Islam.