Iran’s Holocaust cartoon chief miffed at Zarif’s KKK comparison
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Iran’s Holocaust cartoon chief miffed at Zarif’s KKK comparison

We're not encouraging racism or violence, says Seyed Massoud Shojayee Tabatabayee; maintains Iranian government not involved in project

A drawing submitted to a Holocaust denial cartoon contest sponsored by Iran in 2015.
A drawing submitted to a Holocaust denial cartoon contest sponsored by Iran in 2015.

The organizer of Iran’s Holocaust cartoon contest on Wednesday rejected comments by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif likening the initiative to the Ku Klux Klan, telling Iranian media that the event is not anti-Semitic or racist.

In an interview with the New Yorker on Monday, Zarif was asked why Iran permits the Holocaust cartoon contest to run.

“Why does the United States have the Ku Klux Klan? Is the government of the United States responsible for the fact that there are racially hateful organizations in the United States?” Zarif replied.

Seyed Massoud Shojayee Tabatabayee told the semi-official Fars News Agency in response that the competition is not anti-Semitic or racist.

“The issues that we raise about the Holocaust are not related to spreading racist hatred and violence,” he said, but rather “we seek to address the fake Zionist regime.”

Iranian Holocaust cartoon (photo credit: Channel 2 screen capture)
An Iranian Holocaust cartoon (photo credit: Channel 2 screen capture)

The New Yorker had pressed Zarif on the cartoon festival launched by former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif listens to a question in a joint press briefing with his Omani counterpart Yousuf bin Alawi after their meeting in Tehran, February 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)

He replied that it’s run by an NGO unaffiliated with the government. Reminding the interviewer that he has wished Jews worldwide a Happy New Year at Rosh Hashanah, he said: “So we will not be going to that festival’s opening.”

Tabatabayee backed up Zarif’s claims, saying “generally speaking, Mr. Zarif is not familiar with the events happening in relation to the Holocaust exhibition (and cartoon contest) and no one has provided him with any relevant information either.”

A drawing submitted to a Holocaust denial cartoon contest sponsored by Iran in 2015.
A drawing submitted to a Holocaust denial cartoon contest sponsored by Iran in 2015.

The cartoon contest organizer also claimed the West has a double standard on free speech, pointing to the Charlie Hebdo magazine, which was permitted to publish cartoons critical of Islam, while Holocaust denial is shut down.

Seyed Massoud Shojayee Tabatabayee (Courtesy)
Seyed Massoud Shojayee Tabatabayee (Courtesy)

He also contended that “even if the Holocaust happened to this extent, the main question then would be why the Palestinian people should pay the price for it and their territories should be occupied by the Zionist regime in reprisal,” the report said.

And he indicated that the Jews should have built their state in Germany.

“The second question is why they had not granted the Jews parts of Germany which was the main culprit behind the World War II to build their homes,” he said.

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