A Danish art group that pokes fun at world leaders targeted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday by placing an advertisement in a Tehran newspaper with an insulting hidden message.
Beneath a picture of the president, a series of apparently sympathetic statements were arranged such as “Support his fight against Bush” and “Iran has the right to produce nuclear energy.” The ad was attributed to “Danes for World Peace.”
However, the first letters of each phrase, when read from top to bottom, spell out “S-W-I-N-E.”
The English-language Tehran Times, the conservative daily that printed the half-page ad, had apparently not detected the hidden message. But its impact is likely to be limited as the paper has a circulation of only a few thousand.
“We thought we would poke fun at Ahmadinejad because we don’t think he’s very liberal or sensitive,” said Jan Egesborg, a member of the art group Surrend.
“We think he represents an extreme ideology,” he said.
The Tehran Times’ editor said the group had presented its advertisement as an act of solidarity with Iran and contrition for last year’s publication in a Danish newspaper of cartoons seen by many Muslims as insulting the Prophet Mohammad. More than 50 people died in protests across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
“This group deceived the Tehran Times,” Parviz Esmaili told Reuters. “Unfortunately, this incident will only cause more hatred against Danes; even against those (Danes) who respect other cultures.”
Seeking reaction from Iran's youth
Ahmadinejad has been condemned in the West for comments doubting the veracity of the Holocaust and calling for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”
Previous targets of the group, which has no political affiliations, include Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko and Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe.
Egesborg, 44, who teaches at the Danish School of Fine Art, said: “We did it to cause a reaction. There is a young population there (in Iran) which wants more liberalization. Hopefully they will be inspired,” he said. “It’s nothing against the country or the people, it’s (against) the person in power.”
In its stunt against Lukashenko, Surrend erected posters at the Belarus-Poland border with pictures of the president accompanied by captions that included: “You control the sun, the moon and the corruption.”