Phillips, Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Contest epitomizes the country’s trend of Holocaust denial and delegitimization of Iranian Jewry. Founded on nationalistic and anti-Zionist notions, the modern state of Iran has maintained antisemitism since its post-Holocaust conception. Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of The Islamic Republic of Iran, asserts that Jews are surrogates of Western imperialism, at fault for displacing Palestinian Muslims .
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Another ?Shiite 1 religious leader ?Ayatollah Ali Khamenei commented in his official 2014 Nowruz address, “the Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it’s uncertain how it has happened.” Iran’s International Holocaust Cartoon Contest serves as a hallmark of antisemitism 2 and Holocaust denial in Iran and has vast implications for present-day Iranian Jews. Following the Holocaust, the former Persian Empire which had been a safe-space for Jews rapidly turned to antisemitism and persecution of its Jewish citizens, the new Islamic Republic of Iran making public its anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish views.
Persian Government during the Holocaust: Seeds for Modern Antisemitism The Persian government’s role during the Holocaust was integral in modern Iran’s turn towards antisemitism. The present-day Iranian government actively retains information about the Holocaust from its people, including Persian history during World War II, despite its devastating consequences. The modern government intentionally spreads false information in order to bolster Holocaust denial. On International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2016, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei released a video titled “Holocaust: Are the Dark Ages Over?”” on his website, questioning the Nazi mass slaughter of more than six million Jews during World War II. He commented, No one in European countries dares to speak about the Holocaust, while it is not clear whether the core of this matter is clear or not. Even if it is a reality, it is not clear how it happened. Speaking about the Holocaust and expressing doubts about it is considered to be a great sin. If someone does this, they stop, arrest, imprison, and sue him. This is while they claim to be the supporters of freedom. This is the ignorance that exists in today’s world. The modern government’s overt denial of the Holocaust takes its roots in Persian involvement during World War II and creates a milieu for antisemitism to flourish within the country itself. Before the Holocaust, Persian Jews held religious autonomy, economic opportunities, and significant political rights, the government even pronouncing that Persian Jews were to be 5 viewed as fully assimilated Persian citizens. Although Nazi ideology insisted on racial inferiority of the inhabitants of the Middle East and directly targeted the Persian people, Reza Shah leaned 6 in sympathy towards Germany because of the country’s lack of interference with Persian legislature in the past. German and Persian governments bolstered one another and by 1940–41, 7 nearly half of all Iranian imports came from Germany and 42% of all Iranian exports went to Germany.
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