Iranian Exhibit Takes On the Holocaust





TEHRAN, Aug. 16 -- At the exhibition entrance, a poster shows a helmet with the Star of David lying on top of others carrying a Nazi swastika. Inside, the Statue of Liberty is pictured holding a Holocaust book while giving a Nazi salute.

Organizers say the exhibition of more than 200 entries from Iran's International Holocaust Cartoons Contest aims to challenge Western taboos about discussing the Holocaust, in which 6 million Jews died. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called the Holocaust a "myth."

"This is a test of the boundaries of free speech espoused by Western countries," Masoud Shojai, head of the Cartoon House, which helped organize the exhibition, said as he stood next to the Statue of Liberty drawing.

Iran's best-selling newspaper, Hamshahri, launched a competition in February to find the best cartoon about the Holocaust, in retaliation for the September publication of caricatures of the prophet Muhammad in a Danish paper and later in other European publications.

Those cartoons sparked attacks on European embassies in Muslim nations, including missions in Iran.

"We wanted to challenge European taboos. Why should questioning the Holocaust be a taboo?" Shojai said. "Why should anyone who talks about it be fined or jailed?"

It is a crime in European countries such as Germany and Austria to deny the Holocaust. The initial plans for a contest about the Holocaust provoked a storm of condemnation and revulsion in some countries, including the United States, which called the idea "outrageous."

The newspaper broadened the rules to include any caricature that tests "freedom of expression."




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