Jewish organizations ask German FM to act to have Iran’s caricature contest canceled

Jewish organizations in Germany have stepped up their fight against Iran’s infamous Holocaust cartoon contest by calling on the German foreign minister, currently on a visit to Iran, to get it canceled.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier traveled to Iran on Tuesday for an official visit, his first since the lifting of sanctions against Iran. On the eve of his trip, Jewish organizations turned to Steinmeier urging him to act. The contest is expected to take place in Tehran in June 2016 at the initiative of the Iranian authorities.

The letter added: “A regime for which anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are part of its essence cannot be a partner for peace and stability. This competition shows that Iran is still not ready to reverse course. Only when this change happens will Iran once again be a partner in the international community.”

The European organization Stop the Bomb published an open letter addressed to Steinmeier demanding he officially condemn the contest. “Holocaust denial is no longer a secondary caprice of the Iranian regime. It is an expression of the centrality of anti-Semitism to the Iranian regime’s ideology. The leadership of the Islamic Republic has placed Holocaust denial at the center of its foreign policy and it uses it against the world’s biggest Jewish community – Israel.”

This is the third Iranian caricature contest, meant to ridicule the Holocaust as a response to the caricatures of Muhammad, and it offers a cash prize of $50,000 to the winner.

On the last International Holocaust Day held on 27 January, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei posted a video which raised doubts about whether the Holocaust occurred.

The letter sent to Steinmeier by the office manager of Berlin’s American Jewish Committee said: “Fairness, conscience and humanity require the German government not to remain passive in the face of the recurring trampling of the dignity of Holocaust victims and their relatives.

“Germany needs to act to have the offensive contest canceled, and if necessary it should impose political and economic sanctions,” the letter continued.

As part of his trip to the German minister also will visit Saudi Arabia in an attempt to calm the rising tension between Saudi and Iran.