A defamatory cartoon portraying Jewish worshippers praying before the New York Stock Exchange has won first prize in Iran’s annual "International Wall Street Downfall Cartoon Festival" on Monday.
The festival was co-sponsored by Iran's semiofficial Fars news agency in an attempt to show solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement and "help people in the United States take their message out to the world," reported Radio Free Europe.
Entries from around the world, many of which espoused openly anti-Semitic and anti-American themes, were put on display in Tehran and can be viewed on a Fars website dedicated to the event.
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.
Second prize went to a Ukrainian cartoonist, Oleksiy Kustovsky, whose entry shows the image of a man being struck by falling rocks as two men try to scale bags of American money.
Third prize went to another Iranian artist, Farhad Gharamal, whose cartoon pictures dozens of penniless men with water dripping out of their empty pockets, forming a sea in which Wall Street is drowning.
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.
Hard-liners have compared the Occupy Wall Street movement to the Arab uprisings and said it would ultimately topple capitalism in the United States. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in an October speech that, "Ultimately, it will grow so that it will bring down the capitalist system and the West."
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the festival on July 9, Iranian lawmaker and senior Khamenei adviser Gholam Ali Haddad Adel said the Occupy Wall Street movement reveals "the untruthful nature of Washington's propaganda" about freedom, democracy, and human rights.
Haddad Adel also blasted Western media for their coverage of the 2009 mass antigovernment protests in Iran.
"The U.S.-led Western media released untruthful reports about the lack of democracy in Iran, street clashes, violence, and arrests every 15 minutes during the 2009 sedition," he alleged. "This is what they always do with any country which is not in harmony with them."
He also claimed that Western media were initially reluctant to cover the Occupy Wall Street protests, but only chose to do so once they became too large to ignore.
Ironically, while Iranian state media claims such ‘oversights’ on behalf of the Western press, the regime’s own media ignored the 2009 street protests against the disputed reelection of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, but covered the Occupy Wall Street protests extensively, according to Radio Free Europe.
In 2006, Iran organized a contest of cartoons mocking the Holocaust. A Moroccan illustrator was awarded first prize 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.