Iran Defends Holocaust Cartoon Competition As Expression Of Free Speech

250px-flag_of_iransvgOne of the most impressive characteristics of religious extremists is the ability to hold facially contrary positions without any sense of contradiction or hypocrisy. Saudi Arabia decries any limitations on Muslims worshipping in other countries while banning churches and public worship of non-Muslims in its own country. Iran is particularly prone to such contradictions like executing homosexuals while denying that there are any homosexuals in Iran or objecting to the treatment of protesters in the West while jailing, beating and killing protesters in Iran. This week Iran offered another such example. In refusing to censor a Holocaust-themed cartoon festival, Iran (which has ordered the killing of authors and cartoonists for insulting Islam) insisted that it had to stand with free speech and would not think of interfering with an author or cartoonist in expressing their views. The same week, Iran has called for the arrest and punishment of models who allow themselves to be photographed without religious scarves.  Likewise, it previously ordered the flogging of a model for a public kiss.

While governments should not censor such competitions and should protect free speech, Iran could condemn the competition. Thus, it is not that Iran is wrong in refusing to shutdown the competition. Rather, it is the towering hypocrisy of a nation that is one of the brutal suppressors of free speech in the world embracing free speech without a hint of self-awareness.

As Israel and the United States condemn Iran for allowing a Holocaust-themed cartoon festival to go on display in Tehran, the Iranian regime says it won’t censor what it says is free speech. Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, “Don’t consider Iran a monolith. The Iranian government does not support, nor does it organize, any cartoon festival of the nature that you’re talking about. When you stop your own organizations from doing things, then you can ask others to do likewise.” Really, tell that to Salman Rushdie who Iran is still trying to murder for simply writing a book considered offensive to Muhammad.

Zarif added “Why does the United States have the Ku Klux Klan? Is the government of the United States responsible for the fact that there are racially hateful organizations in the United States?” Of course, that would a valid point if, like the United States, Iran allowed free speech. If that were the case, Iran would be on good ground in saying that it will not censor speech for any group, even hateful or divisive groups. But of course it not only suppresses free speech but kills people who express certain thoughts.

This year is the second International Holocaust Cartoon Contest to be held in Tehran. The competition was created as a juvenile response to the printing in 2005 by Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper, of a series of cartoons that mocked Muslim prophet, igniting protests across the world. The Iranian organizers are trying to show that in the West people cannot satirize the Holocaust but can satirize Muhammad. The premise is of course false in the United States. However, in Europe, countries like France, England, and Germany are rapidly rolling back on free speech. It is possible in these countries that mocking the Holocaust would be treated as hate speech, something that many civil libertarians (including myself) have decried over the years. However, while there are plenty of countries that can reasonably point to that contradiction of free speech principles, Iran is not one of them.

63 thoughts on “Iran Defends Holocaust Cartoon Competition As Expression Of Free Speech”

  1. Po

    ‘Idiosyncrasies’ is light years from reality. Iran is a toilet as are all extreme Islamic states. There may be a degree of inoffensive aspects in Islam, as there is in most religions but Islam in Iran is light years from inoffensive and being an idiosyncrasy. Whatever faults America has, and there is no shortage, America is evolutionarily speaking centuries ahead of toilets like Iran. America has problems: complacency, xenophobia, resting on its laurels, etc., however, the one problem America does not have is the inability to self criticize. America is light years more advanced than what it was and will be light years more advanced than what it is. This only comes through the freedom to call a spade a spade and not cloak one’s faults in bogus nationalism. The biggest threat that faces America today can be found in statements like, ‘We’re number one.’, ‘If it ain’t broke, why fix it?’, and most of what the gumshoe blathers.

  2. All 4 of my grandparents were immigrants. They loved this country. Seems our foreign born commenters haven’t had the love and success my grandparents experienced. So, instead of looking in the mirror, they blame the USA. Pitiful, really.

  3. Warspite: Civility Rules can be read on the blog site here. Friggin Nazi is not acceptable either.

  4. Thank you Congresswoman Judas Wasserman Schultz for being one of the de facto financial co-sponsors of this event.

  5. I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon on various media sites. Whenever the media comments on some atrocity overseas, such as the erosion of free speech in Europe or the next atrocity committed in the name of radical Islam, it engenders self loathing.

    Strange. When I hear about the dirth of free speech in the Middle East, and elsewhere, I feel blessed to Iive in the US. We have the most robust free speech protection on the planet. Women have equal rights, and their testimony is valued equally to a man’s in the courtroom. There’s really no comparison. As long as we don’t throw our rights away…

  6. “Why don’t you do something worthwhile instead of publishing all the stupidity abroad? Y

    The greatest single threat to Western civilization remains Islamic jihad.

    The US is drifting quickly toward an authoritarian fascist crony capitalist state, to be sure. but even that pales against Islamification.

  7. Denial does not recognize itself.

    We are very lucky to have the most robust free speech in the world here in the US.

  8. What political theorist said: Fly Over And Flush? John Kenneth Galbraith? Mao? Hitler? Joseph Kennedy?

  9. Let’s also understand something more important than shibboleths., Europe is being invaded by millions of refugees and displaced persons. Surely a small number are terrorists even if most are decent people and victims. Really I have a lot of empathy for them, because they lived in homes that were more secure before the disastrous US war in Iraq and the power vacuum that ISIS the Saudi-paid and Turkish- armed mercenaries filled with their bloodthirsty mischief. They were more at peace under Saddam Hussein and the Assads than the bloodthirsty freaks of ISIS.

    I also have a lot of sympathy with the European peoples who already live in densely population nations. They did not vote to take in millions of immigrants– Frau Merkel and the EU and NATO have basically forced it upon them.

    I don’t think Iran was responsible for IS was it. No, not unless you just watch tv and can’t read. It is a Saudi proxy militia aimed at destroying the Syrian state because it is deemed an ally of Iran and a client of Russia.

    In this way, if we put two and two together, then we might infer that Saudis and Turks are the enemies of Europe, along with their fellow travellers, and Iran is not. That’s why the western press has to demonize Iran: to keep the European peoples from wandering off the NATO reservation.

    International capitalism is globalism. The working people of America, Europe and the middle east actually have a lot in common, but keep on dredging up human rights dreck like this to obscure the geopolitical issues that if properly understood could actually save millions of lives.


    Finkelstein’s third essay titled, “The Double Shakedown,” is his most important contribution in this book. The number of survivors of the Nazi holocaust at the end of the war ranged from 60,000 to 100,000. Taking the upper bound of the original estimate of approximately 100,000 survivors of the Nazi holocaust at the time of the liberation of the camps and further assuming that one-fourth of the initial number of survivors is alive today, this would mean that are about 25,000 survivors in 2000 (the time of publication of the book). Finkelstein’s mother used to ask, “If everyone who claims to be a survivor actually is one, who did Hitler kill?” The Holocaust Industry exaggerates the number of survivors alive today. For instance, the Holocaust Industry has claimed that 135,000 former Jewish slave workers are alive today. This would imply that about 600,000 were alive after the war. That would mean about half a million less dead than the total number of 5.2 million victims of the Nazi holocaust. Thus, unwittingly the Holocaust Industry lends supports to the claims of the deniers of the Nazi holocaust.”

    Oy, that Norm Finkelstein. What an antisemite. That’s why Alan Dershovitz hounded him and got him fired from various university teaching positions. Free speech, but no free lunch, that’s for sure.

    Calling the Iranians hypocrites, well I am sure they are. They are also not far from the biggest hypocrites in history and you get a cookie if you can guess who that is.

    1. John Smith – I have another source that puts the numbers of Jews surviving at 3.2 million.

  11. Did someone go over the line and raise concerns about the German work camps that Israelis allege were actually death camps where many people contracted Typhus fever and died?

  12. I do not see any wrong with the contest. However, they should give good prizes. I did not see anything wrong with the Draw Mohammad contest, so I would be hypocritical to find anything wrong with this.

  13. We all get it Turley, Iran is bad. This is nothing new and more of a human condition. We should be focussing closer to home. How about the great hypocrisy that is American democracy. Representation is supposed to be based on the majority of votes by an informed citizenry. Instead the entire circus is controlled by less than one percent of the population, the mega rich who buy the representatives before they run, after they run if elected, and then pull the strings. America’s hypocrisy is that it is an oligarchy, reseting on its laurels.

    You might do better to campaign against concentrated wealth in politics. Now that that idiot Scalia is gone perhaps a modicum of common sense might return to the Supreme Court. A petition should be launched to limit ALL contributions to be no more than $10 per person, controlled by voter registration, complete with ID numbers, etc. Hefty fines and jail time for politicians taking money from lobbyists and special interests would be a great partner to this proposal.

    Why don’t you do something worthwhile instead of publishing all the stupidity abroad? You have a forum. Use it to do some good. Typically all this blog serves is an opportunity for people to vent their spleens. You have an opportunity to be more than an observer, a mouthpiece, a suit.

  14. What KCFleming said.
    Those who most forcefully assert any position tend to be the least analytic, the least educated, the least knowledgeable about the world and humanity.

  15. One of the most impressive characteristics of humans is the ability to hold facially contrary positions without any sense of contradiction or hypocrisy.

    See: Maoists, Communists, Black Lives Matter, Democrats, etc.

    Not a feature specific to religion or politics, but common to any human.

  16. Prof. Turley writes, “One of the most impressive characteristics of religious extremists is the ability to hold facially contrary positions without any sense of contradiction or hypocrisy.”

    Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and the Roman Catholic Church, come to mind, too.

  17. “The thrust of the Iranian organizers appears to be that people cannot satirize the Holocaust but can do so with Muhammad. ”
    Should that word “cannot” be the word “can”. In Iran. You can satirize the Holocaust in Iran. But you cannot satirize Muhammad.
    I am confused.

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