A cartoon exhibition held from August 14 to September 13, 2006 in the Iranian capital, Tehran, was the focus of much international attention and controversy due to its holocaust theme.
The exhibition was spawned by two separate factors: The first had to do with the views of Iran’s new President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is both staunchly anti-Israel and incredulous towards the generally accepted historical versions of the Nazi’s bloody “Final Solution” for Europe’s Jewry during WW II. The exhibit was not actually officially sponsored by the Iranian Government, but rather a newspaper run by Tehran’s municipality, but it’s worth noting that till his election to the Presidency, Ahmadinejad was the Mayor of Tehran.
The other reason was the infamous cartoon published in a Danish newspaper on September 30, 2005, which to many Muslims showed the Prophet Muhammad in a blasphemous manner and in turn resulted in violent anti-Danish protests and a boycott of Danish products in many Islamic nations.
In reality the exhibit was aimed just as much towards antagonizing America (and to a lesser degree Britain) as Israel and Denmark (oddly enough, only two out of the 204 caricatures on display dealt with Denmark!)
A curious side note about the exhibit is the fact that a lot of the time there were no visitors on site, and those who attended fell into three categories; students or government employees, ordered to attend; Tehran’s hip and avant-garde circles (composed mostly of authors, filmmakers and television personalities); and foreign correspondents from many of the world’s major media outlets.
Author and Photographer – Arya Kazemi.