Iran paper holds Holocaust contest

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Iran's biggest-selling newspaper announced yesterday that it was holding a contest for cartoons of the Holocaust in response to the publication in European papers of caricatures of the prophet Mohammed.

"It will be an international cartoon contest about the Holocaust," said the graphics editor of Hamshahri, Farid Mortazavi.

The aim was to turn the tables on the Western assertion that newspapers could print offensive material in the name of a free press, Mr Mortazavi said.

"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," he said.

Iran's fiercely anti-Israeli Government is supportive of Holocaust revisionist historians who claim the slaughter by the Nazis of Jews and other groups during World War II has been invented or exaggerated.

Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad prompted international anger when he dismissed the slaughter by the Nazis of Europe's Jews as a "myth" used to justify the creation of the state of Israel.

Mr Mortazavi said today's edition of his paper would invite cartoonists to enter the competition, with "private individuals" offering gold coins to the best 12 artists - the same number of cartoons of Mohammed that appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry last week invited British Prime Minister Tony Blair to visit Tehran to take part in a conference on the Holocaust, but the idea was branded by Mr Blair as "shocking, ridiculous, stupid".

Mr Blair said Mr Ahmadinejad "should come and see the evidence of the Holocaust himself in the countries of Europe".

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