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Iran Group Launches $12,000 Contest for Cartoons That Deny Holocaust

TEHRAN — A global cartoon competition based on the theme of Holocaust denial was launched in Iran Thursday in response to the Charlie Hebdo magazine cover that featured a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad, the official news agency Fars reported.

Organized by Tehran-based House of Cartoons and the Sarcheshmeh Cultural Complex, the contest sets out questions for entrants to address in their artwork, including: "If the West says that freedom of speech has no borders then why don't they let historians and experts properly research the Holocaust?" and "Why should the Palestinian people pay for the Holocaust?"

All cartoons must be submitted by April Fools' Day because "April 1 is the day of big lies, and the Holocaust is a big lie that the Zionists invented to suppress the Palestinians," said Masoud Shojaei-Tabatabaii, head of House of Cartoons and one of the competition's organizers.

Holocaust denial is common in certain quarters Iran - most notably by former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - and for some lawmakers it is appears to be almost an oath of allegiance. However, both President Hassan Rouhani and foreign ministers Mohammad Javad Zarif have publicly rejected Holocaust denial.

It is the second such competition of its kind. In 2006, there were violent protests outside the Danish embassy in Tehran in response to a Danish newspaper depicting the Prophet Muhammad. In response, Iran launched its first holocaust denial cartoon contest and a holocaust denial conference that was attended by American ex-Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and many neo-Nazis.

Fars said the winner will receive a cash prize of $12,000, the runner-up $8,000 and third place $5,000.

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- Ali Arouzi