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Iranian Newspaper Plans Holocaust Cartoon Contest

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TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's best-selling newspaper has launched a competition to find the best cartoon about the Holocaust in retaliation for the publication in many European countries of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.

The Brussels-based Conference of European Rabbis (CER) denounced the idea and urged the Muslim world to do likewise.

The daily paper Hamshahri said the contest was designed to test the boundaries of free speech -- the reason given by many European newspapers for publishing the cartoons of the Prophet.

"A serious question for Muslims ... is this: 'does Western free speech allow working on issues like America and Israel's crimes or an incident like the Holocaust or is this freedom of speech only good for insulting the holy values of divine religions?'" the paper said on Tuesday.

Davoud Kazemi, who is in charge of the contest, told Reuters that each of the 12 winners would have their cartoons published and receive two gold coins (worth about $140 each) as a prize.

In Paris, CER President Joseph Sitruk, who is also Chief Rabbi of France, said: "The Iranian regime has plummeted to new depths if it regards the deaths of six million Jews as a matter for humor or to score cheap political points.

"Sadly, we are not surprised by this action," he said, recalling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's calls last year for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and his dismissal of the Holocaust as a myth.

In a statement issued by the CER, which represents chief rabbis from over 40 European countries, Sitruk said the Iranian government menaced Jews and the whole international community.

Sitruk noted that European religious leaders had condemned the publication of images likely to offend believers' feelings.

"This is a test for the Muslim world to react immediately to condemn their own co-religionists in Iran for such obscene behavior as we condemned those who sought to insult them," he said.

Iranian protesters hurled petrol bombs and stones at the Danish Embassy in Tehran for a second successive day on Tuesday.

Iran announced it had cut all trade ties with Denmark because of the cartoons and hundreds of protesters hurled rocks and fire bombs at the Danish embassy on Monday night.

A Danish newspaper first published the cartoons in September, and newspapers in Norway and a dozen other countries reprinted them last month.

http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle....&archived=False

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In Paris, CER President Joseph Sitruk, who is also Chief Rabbi of France, said: "The Iranian regime has plummeted to new depths if it regards the deaths of six million Jews as a matter for humor or to score cheap political points.

It has always been interesting to me that so many Jews -esp those of position, speaking publically- continually dismiss the OTHER 5 MILLION SOULS WHO WERE VICTIMS OF THE HOLOCAUST.

Did I say "interesting"? I meant despicable.

Race & religion will NEVER be a non-issue until we as a species are all dust.

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Wait.. I thought Iran said the Holocaust didn't happen and that it was a big set up. They are clearly looking for a confrontation.

I say.. if they want one.. we'll bring it to them.

This isn't Islam versus the west. It's petty thugs versus the entire world (even the real muslim population)

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I wonder what the Iranians would say if Jews flipped out for no reason and burned down all the Iranian embassies?

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Iranians are the lowest form of humans. They have no civilization in their country which makes them nothing more than barbarians. The Shiia Muslims are the ones bringing down Islam and making people who otherwise would have tolerated their religion hate them.

Have you noticed how they have been burning crosses (the Danish flag is a cross)? This is a huge insult to Christians and Catholics worldwide. These losers need to get a grip.

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One thing to remember is that the majority of the 'nations' in the Middle East aren't what we think consider nations to be. They're so fractured by internal strife and civil conflict because of their arbitrary, European-drawn borders they can't have a collective national identity. Ditto with much of Africa.

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One thing to remember is that the majority of the 'nations' in the Middle East aren't what we think consider nations to be. They're so fractured by internal strife and civil conflict because of their arbitrary, European-drawn borders they can't have a collective national identity. Ditto with much of Africa.

Iran (Persia) is largely intact and was not greatly divided by foreign powers.

But now that you mention it. Every country in the world has had its borders fractured by war an/or internal strife. Even island nations like Japan have gained and lost territory through conflict. Even peaceful Canada has such a history.

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Canada? Peaceful? Watch Canadian Bacon. Its an eye-opener. :P

My point is that people like the British and French as different as they are can form a nation that is peaceful even if their borders were drawn by imperialist European influences. Its true there are still some issues with Quebec but Canada has formed a cohesive national identity.

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You can't really compare Canada with the arbitrary boundaries in Africa; Canadians migrated over from Europe. Ancient African tribes were split up, and were forced to cohabitate with longstanding enemies.

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You can't really compare Canada with the arbitrary boundaries in Africa; Canadians migrated over from Europe. Ancient African tribes were split up, and were forced to cohabitate with longstanding enemies.

You absolutley can because if you look at the population of Africa at the time that national borders were created, you will see that the relatively small population was still rural and nomadic. It has been the huge population growth and not the arbitrary borders that has brough these tribal peoples together.

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I wonder what the Iranians would say if Jews flipped out for no reason and burned down all the Iranian embassies?

So far it has not come to violance and let's hope it stays that way. If violence does result we may end up having our military spread out even thinner than it already is. This is pretty stupid however.

Blathazar:

Yes, having grown up in Eastern Europe I know what you mean. Pretty much anyone who deviated from absolute normalicy was in jeopardy of being sent to the Concentration Camps. Those other millions of non-jews were Eastern Europeans, Gypsies, Gays, Accused Spies, People found harboring/dating/aiding Jews.... you get the point.

I remember in 1st grade back in Slovakia (1985) we had a class about WWII. Several kids related true stories about their family's loss in WWII by Germans or Russians or whatever. One kid's grandfather was sent to a concentration camp for no particular reason. The saddest part of the story was that he was liberated and sent home by wars end. He had not eaten more than crumbs, leather, water & dirt in weeks and when he got home the family made a huge feast for him. The shock of eating the equivelant of a Christmas dinner after months of starvation killed him by the next morning.

But here's a person who is not remembered in Memorials and TV specials because he was not Jewish, just like all the victims of Stalin. Between the USSR and Europe a lot more people died than just in the holocaust.

Edited by Sixty8panther

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I'd just like to point out that the National Holocaust Museum in DC does a great job of including information on all the groups targeted.

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I would just caution anyone from adducing this to show that Iranians are "the lowest form of human beings", not only is that patently false, but such rhetoric prevents us from seeing the big picture as well as the real hope for defusing this situation. Clearly, no rational person of pure conscience could look at the holocaust and think it was funny.

I assure you that the vast majority of Iranians would agree on the inappropriateness of such a contest, just the way the vast majority of Danish people gasped at the inappropriateness of the initial cartoon. So we should not be too quick to label an entire nation as fanatic. Especially in the case of Iran, the truth is more complicated, and cultural similarities more prevalent than conventional wisdom in the West acknowledges.

Before blaming the Iranians entirely for the situation in their country, we should, as Martin Luther King suggested from his cell in a Birmingham jail for a very different clash of cultures, purify ourselves. What this means as we should acknowledge the ways in which our actions have contributed to the problem.

We cannot look at the Iranian anti-Western anti-American attitude (again not held by every Iranian) without admitting that our support for the overthrow of the popular Iranian regime in the 50s, followed by our propping up of the repressive and unpopular Shah, our later arming of Saddam Hussein with chemical weapons, and our long-standing support of Israel (seen by many Middle Eastern states as violating international law by not pulling out of the occupied territories and honoring UN mandated borders) has contributed in some way to the sentiments. This is not to argue that any of these actions were unjustified, just that they had an effect.

We must also shy away from simplistic portrayals that say Iranians are all violent fanatics, all anti-Western, all anti-Democratic, and all anti-Israel. For few claims does actual evidence more strongly refute. The hope for a democratic and peaceful Iran has never been greater. Currently more than 60% of Iranians are under the age of 18. Among this group there are strong democratic tendencies. Also, this group has shown a major interest in Western culture, such as music and movies from the United States. At no time in the past has the United States' entertainment industry been more popular in Iran than it is today. At the same time, most Iranians would accept a one or two state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Iran also, I believe, leads the Middle East in the number of female professionals, and I know for a fact that 60% of college students in Iran are women, and 25% of government seats are occupied by women. Furthermore, support for the US in Iran, while low, is at 19 percent, which is more than more friendly nations like Saudi Arabia (12%) and Egypt (15%) which happens to be the biggest recipient of US Aid.

While these are good signs, we must understand that we cannot afford to alienate these progressive trends from the mainstream. In other words, cartoons like the Danish cartoon probably don't make the case of the moderate minority with pro-Western (or at least not anti-Western) positions to defend the West. A hard-line policy that isolates Iran in response to the proliferation crisis would likely do more harm than good.

It is true that most Iranians support the aquisition of nuclear weapon technology (55%), and an even larger number wants nuclear technology for energy. Now, it is also true that an Iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable. At the same time, their desire for nuclear weapons can be reduced through practical means, although it would not be easy. First, we need to understand that, from an Iranian point of view, nuclear weapons would enhance their security. They see US action against Iraq, a country without nuclear weapons, and the lack thereof with regards to North Korea, a country with nuclear weapons, as a sign that nuclear weapons mean you don't have to worry about war. This is bad logic, but nonetheless prevalent. Moreover, Iran sees itself surrounded by nuclear powers, Israel has an unofficial number of weapons, but it is clear they have them, Pakistan and India are both nuclear powers. They also face a US controlled Iraq. They also see it as a matter of fairness (why can we have them and they cannot - this of course ignores the fact that they signed the NPT).

It would be foolish to think that the US cannot act to reduce the fears that lead to the desire for nukes. However, the desire for nuclear power is practicle for a country that makes billions selling oil. We should work to help Iran with its energy concerns while at the same time ensuring any nuclear program remains peaceful. This has been a failed challenge in the past with countries like Pakistan. However, that doesn't mean creative solutions won't work in the future.

Ultimately. when we look at the situation closer, the problems seem less intractable, the "others" turn out to be more like "us", and the reasons to hope and the prospects for peace brighten considerably.

- E.S. Mail

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I could agree with you but I won't. Its just to simplistic to say that the Iranians are just misunderstood. When 81% of Americans have a disfavorable opinion of them.

The introspection needs to be on the side of the Iranians not on our side. As Americans, we tend to see both sides but fanatical Islam as promoted by Iran has pushed even the most tolerant Americans to the breaking point. While its lovely to try and put things in context and create "Excuses for Bad Behavior" sometimes the blame and fault truly lies with the other side.

The Iranians also need to acknowledge how their own actions have led to their current situation. What was it about the "popular Iranian regime of the 50's" that led us to overthrow it? Were the Iranians truly without blame? Are we to patronize them, as just innocent victims of their own lives?

As time passes the Iranians have made every effort to be more like "others" and less like "us."

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I could agree with you but I won't. Its just to simplistic to say that the Iranians are just misunderstood. When 81% of Americans have a disfavorable opinion of them.

The introspection needs to be on the side of the Iranians not on our side. As Americans, we tend to see both sides but fanatical Islam as promoted by Iran has pushed even the most tolerant Americans to the breaking point. While its lovely to try and put things in context and create "Excuses for Bad Behavior" sometimes the blame and fault truly lies with the other side.

The Iranians also need to acknowledge how their own actions have led to their current situation. What was it about the "popular Iranian regime of the 50's" that led us to overthrow it? Were the Iranians truly without blame? Are we to patronize them, as just innocent victims of their own lives?

As time passes the Iranians have made every effort to be more like "others" and less like "us."

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You know what...our constitution allows for free speech, as do the constitutions of most other democracy-based nations. I think it would annoy the creators of these cartoons more if we just let it roll off our shoulders. They (the cartoonists) want to get a rise out of us. Let's not give it to them.

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You know what...our constitution allows for free speech, as do the constitutions of most other democracy-based nations. I think it would annoy the creators of these cartoons more if we just let it roll off our shoulders. They (the cartoonists) want to get a rise out of us. Let's not give it to them.

All they ever get is a rise. I guarantee you that we won't be burning down their embassies. We are civilized.

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I'd just like to point out that the National Holocaust Museum in DC does a great job of including information on all the groups targeted.

As does the Museum of Tolerance in LA

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