TEHRAN, Iran — Ignoring widespread condemnation, Iran awarded a Moroccan artist Wednesday the top prize in an exhibition of cartoons on the Holocaust.
Meant to be a response to the Danish cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad that sparked rage among Muslims around the world, the exhibit appears inspired by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s tirades calling for Israel to be destroyed.
Tehran has several times announced plans to host a conference to examine the scientific evidence supporting the Holocaust, dismissing it as exaggerated.
The exhibit as well as Ahmadinejad’s position on the Holocaust have been widely criticized.
During a visit to Iran in September, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed his displeasure, saying “I think the tragedy of the Holocaust is an undeniable historical fact and we should really accept that fact and teach people what happened in World War II and ensure it is never repeated.”
The U.S. State Department has also slammed the exhibit, calling it an outrageous attempt to “denigrate the horror that was the holocaust.” Israel has repeatedly denounced Ahmadinejad’s comments on Israel and stance on the holocaust.
International entries win prizes
Abdollah Derkaoui received $12,000 for his work depicting an Israeli crane piling large cement blocks on Israel’s security wall and gradually obscuring Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. A picture of Nazi Germany’s Auschwitz concentration camp appears on the wall.
The mosque is Islam’s third holiest site.
The display, comprising 204 entries from Iran and abroad, opened in August.
Entries from Brazil, France and Iran also won prizes.
Many Muslims considered the cartoons published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten a violation of traditions prohibiting images of their prophet.
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