BERLIN (AP) – Germany’s deputy foreign minister on Wednesday decried the announcement of a major Iranian newspaper that it was starting a Holocaust cartoon competition in response to the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad printed in Western publications.
“It is often the case that tastelessness is answered with tastelessness,” Gernot Erler told the Berliner Zeitung.
“But in this case it is more serious, because the Iranian government here is deliberately provoking a conflict.”
The daily Hamshahri, one of Iran’s five biggest newspapers, said its contest for Holocaust cartoons was meant as a test of the West’s principle of freedom of expression.
Both the paper and the center are owned by the Tehran Municipality, which is dominated by allies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is well known for his opposition to Israel.
Last year, Ahmadinejad provoked outrage in Europe when he said Israel should be «wiped out» and the Holocaust was a “myth.”
“After the denial of Israel’s right to exist and the denial of the Holocaust, President Ahmadinejad is here embarking on an escalation,” Erler was quoted as saying.
He said it was cause for concern “if a state in this way uses a culture clash as an instrument for its own power.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned Ahmadinejad’s comments about the Holocaust, saying on the weekend that he cannot “think that Germany has even the slightest degree of tolerance” for such statements.