Switzerland expressed regret Friday for a cartoon displayed by its ambassador to Iran depicting two doves defecating on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s head, saying the image had been used without its knowledge.
Giulio Haas showed the image during a speech to hundreds of Swiss and Iranian business people at a conference in Zurich on Thursday, in which he also described Iran as a “pole of stability” in the Middle East.
The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) called the cartoon “questionable,” and in a statement that it “regrets the use of this cartoon and considers it tasteless,” Reuters reported.
“Ambassador Haas did not intend to insult anybody with the cartoon,” the FDFA statement said. “If that is the case, however, he regrets it and seeks the pardon of everyone who could have felt insulted.”
According to Reuters, the cartoon appeared on an enormous screen at the conference, under the headline “Iran: now or never.” The cartoon, Reuters said, was a commentary on responses to the deal, and showed a pair of doves with American and Iranian flags on their chests, sitting on Netanyahu’s head.
The prime minister is vehemently and vocally opposed to the agreement reached between the world powers and Iran last month, which ends a long-standing economic embargo on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program. US President Barack Obama was to appear in a live webcast with American Jewish groups on Friday, in an effort to win them over on the agreement with the Islamic Republic.
Haas said Thursday that his almost two-year stint in Tehran has made him certain that the West is about to change its view of Iran as an aggressor.
“Iran at the moment is most probably the pole of stability in a very, very unsafe region,” he said. “Iran seems still for a lot of people to be bearded, elderly gentlemen with turbans. You see them, but you see not a lot of them, especially when you’re dealing with business.”