A vilifying cartoon portraying Jewish worshipers praying before the New York Stock Exchange has been declared the winner in Iran’s first annual International Wall Street Downfall Cartoon Festival on Monday.
The festival’s cartoon contest was reportedly held to demonstrate Iran’s solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement. The Iranian outlet Fars News co-sponsored the International Wall Street Downfall Cartoon Festival, to “help people in the United States take their message out to the world,” according to Radio Free Europe.
The Iranian government has come out in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement in its tensions between the US and the Western world. Police intervention in response to unruly Occupy protesters was cynically criticized by Iran after human rights organizations and the US denounced Iran’s inhumane treatment of anti-government protesters during the staged re-election of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009.
At least several of the cartoon entries were anti-Semitic as well as anti-American. The contest’s winner, Mahmod Mohammad Tabrizi, drew three ostensibly religious Jews praying towards Wall Street, which is depicted as Jerusalem’s Western Wall. Tabrizi was awarded five thousand Euros, the festival’s statue, and a letter of appreciation.
The cartoon from Oleksiy Kustovsky from Ukraine, who was awarded four thousand Euros as the second place winner, portrays a man who is hit by descending rocks as two men try to scale bags of American money.
The contest’s jury panel consisted of seven judges from several countries including Iran, Turkey, Poland, and Romania. The panel had selected the top ten winners and 99 finalists from a total pool of nearly 1,600 cartoons from around the world, including entries from the United States, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Russia, and China. The cartoons are currently displayed in Tehran and can be viewed on a Fars webpage associated with the festival.
In 2006 Iran organized a contest of cartoons mocking the Holocaust. A Moroccan illustrator was awarded the top prize at that event for depicting an image of Auschwitz behind Israel’s security fence. The co-sponsor of the Holocaust contest, Iranian newspaper Hamshahri, claimed that the event was held in order to test the Western world’s capacity for tolerance.