Iran launches ”Holocaust competition” in response to Danish cartoon scandal
A Holocaust cartoon competition has been launched in one of Iran's leading newspapers in response to criticism over Muslim protests of cartoons picturing the Prophet Muhammad.
The Hamshahri daily Holocaust competition will be a test to see whether or not freedom of expression is a right of the Muslim world as well the west. "Western newspapers published these caricatures, which constitute desecration, under the pretense of freedom of expression," said the newspaper's graphic editor, Farid Mortazawi.
"Let's see if they mean what they say once we publish Holocaust caricatures," he added.
Earlier in the week, the chief Rabbi of France, Joseph Sitruk, condemned the Danish publication of the disparaging images of the Muslim prophet, saying that publications meant to offend people’s religion should be prohibited.
“I understand the anger of Muslims. And I understand the anger among religious Muslims at publications like these," Sitruk said.
"Publishing material that hurt people’s religious feelings should be forbidden in Denmark as they are in Syria," he added. However, it should be mentioned that Israeli newspapers have published the Danish cartoons.
Meanwhile, Tehran's Danish embassy was attacked by hundreds of Iranians with firebombs and stones in protest of the Danish cartoons. Security forces were required to use tear gas to subdue the angry demonstrators.
The Austrian Embassy was also the target of a similar attack, according to the AP, when 200 students set fires to the compound and broke windows as a sign of disapproval of the EU, whose presidency is currently held by Austria.
The EU, as a result, issued a reminder to 18 Arab and Muslim countries that they are under treaty obligations to protect foreign embassies.
Across the world, thousands have voiced their anger over the cartoons, many in a violent fashion. Several people have already been killed as a result.
Bush urges Saudi Arabia to ease tensions
In response to the growing violence, US President George W. Bush urged the Saudi administration to do what it could to ease tensions over the cartoon scandal.
Saudi Arabia's ambassador to Washington responded with a public appeal for religious tolerance despite the distasteful cartoons.
So too, leading Muslim Brotherhood religious cleric Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi condemned the violent reactions to the cartoons.
"The acts of destruction carried out by a minority of people in capitals around the world are unacceptable as a response to what European newspaper published. We never called on people to burn cars. We call on you to show the fury in an intelligent way as to avoid unthinkable damage," he said on Al Jazeera.
He also called for "sanctions on countries that published the cartoons in their newspapers."