Hamshahri newspaper plans cartoon response

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Tuesday, February 7, 2006 The Iranian newspaper Hamshari daily has stated that it will publish anti-Semitic cartoons in response to the Danish Mohammad cartoons. The newspaper, owned by the Tehran city council, says that the anti-Semitic cartoons will lampoon the Holocaust, following denials by the Iranian government that the Holocaust even happened, and will show "America and Israel's crimes and plundering". The newspaper has launched an international competition to find the most suitable caricatures about the Holocaust.

Farid Mortazavi, the paper's graphics editor, said to the Guardian newspaper that "The western papers printed these sacrilegious cartoons on the pretext of freedom of expression, so let's see if they mean what they say and also print these Holocaust cartoons."

Mr Mortazavi said that the February 8 edition of the paper would invite cartoonists to enter the competition, with gold coins as prizes for the 12 winning artists -- the same number of cartoons that appeared in the conservative Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten lighting the touchpaper for fury which has swept around the Islamic world. According to the article alongside the original "Mohammad cartoons" in the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in late September 2005, the cartoons were intended to show that:

The modern, secular society is rejected by some Muslims. They demand a special position, insisting on special consideration of their own religious feelings. It is incompatible with contemporary democracy and freedom of speech, where you must be ready to put up with insults, mockery and ridicule. It is certainly not always equally attractive and nice to look at, and it does not mean that religious feelings should be made fun of at any price, but that is less important in this context. [...] we are on our way to a slippery slope where no-one can tell how the self-censorship will end. That is why Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten has invited members of the Danish editorial cartoonists union to draw Muhammad as they see him. [...] [1]

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has criticised the argument of freedom of speech employed by European newspapers to justify publication of the cartoons.

If your newspapers are free why do not they publish anything about the innocence of the Palestinians and protest against the crimes committed by the Zionists? the Mehr news agency quoted him as saying.

Anti-Semitic cartoons will be chosen rather than anti-secular or anti-Christian cartoons for the response to the Danish newspaper despite the fact that Denmark has only a small Jewish population of between 6000 and 7000.

In related events, Mr Jahjah of the Arab European League have launched a similar Freedom of Speech Campaign in which they hope to demonstrate that European News Media are only willing to publish anti-Muslim cartoons, and will not publish anti-Christan or anti-Semitic cartoons. The first of these cartoons (drawn by Nabucho) is shown on this page.

Paul Belien of the Brussels Journal noted that "The three AEL cartoons posted so far have been very instructive in that they have all mocked the Nazi persecution of the Jews and the Holocaust, as if Mr Jahjah wants to emphasize that islamofascism is indeed the ideology he adheres to."

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