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(photo credit: AP [file])
An Iranian newspaper's cartoon contest about the Holocaust has drawn entries from 200 people so far, including at least six American cartoonists, an official at the newspaper has said.
The contest, which runs through May 5, was launched in response to caricatures of Islam's Prophet Muhammad that were first published in a Danish newspaper in September and later reprinted in several European nations. The caricatures, which included one showing the Prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb, caused widespread offense among Muslims.
They also sparked protests, some violent, across much of the Muslim world, including Iran.
"What has Ariel Sharon learned from the Holocaust?" Mike Flugennock of Washington asks in a cartoon he submitted which portrays the Palestinian-Israeli conflict under Sharon's tenure as prime minister. Bulldozers raze Palestinian homes and an Israeli soldier points a gun to a Palestinian protester's head above Flugennock's answer to his own question: "humiliation, tyranny, brutality and murder."
Flugennock's cartoon appeared on the official web site of the contest organized by the Tehran-based Hamshahri, one of Iran's top five newspapers. Farid Mortazavi, who is managing the contest, said 200 cartoonists were sending hundreds of cartoons to the newspaper daily.
"We still expect more American cartoonists to send their caricatures to the contest," Mortazavi said Sunday.
Hamshahri launched their contest last month, saying it was a test of the Western world's readiness to print cartoons about the Nazi slaughter of 6 million Jews in World War II.
It called for cartoons under the title: "What is the Limit of Western Freedom of Expression?"
Flugennock said his cartoon was not anti-Semitic, given that its criticism is not of Judaism, nor of Jewish people living in or outside of Israel.
"It specifically addresses policies of the Israeli state with regard to its behavior in Palestine, and their similarities to the strategies employed by the Nazi regime in Warsaw and elsewhere," he said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
The newspaper contest is offering prizes of up to $12,000.
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