Artists Around the World Declare War on ISIS

Carey Wedler
May 29, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Tehran, Iran — A cartoon organization in Tehran has launched a global competition to portray the brutal crimes of the Islamic State. The Tehran-based House of Cartoon accepted 800 submissions from artists around the world, selecting nearly 250 for an exhibit in the city.

Samplings in the showcase include depictions of ISIS (“Daesh” in Farsi) destroying peace, as well as at least one cartoon depicting the group as a product of the United States and Israel. As Iranian artist, Massoud Shoajaei Tabatabaii, explained, the contest was being held “to reveal the true nature of Daesh.”  He said,

Daesh tries to associate itself with Islam but in essence it has no idea about Islam.

The Iranian contest may come as a surprise to Westerners, considering the Iranian government is often portrayed as being as evil as ISIS itself. Fears of Iran developing a nuclear weapon are perpetuated through Western media and the possibility is viewed by many American interventionists as tantamount to the apocalypse.

The House of Cartoon’s sponsorship of a an anti-ISIS project reveals that in spite of the media’s tendency to lump all Middle Eastern powers together, there is a great deal of difference and division throughout the region. Though Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed that ISIS is the same as Hamas, for example, Hamas has vehemently denied the accusation. In contrast, Saudi Arabia—an ally of the United States—not only commits routine human rights abuses, but is the home of the Wahhabism ideology that underlies ISIS. This fact is largely ignored by mainstream news. In the mean time, Iran is fighting the Islamic State in Iraq.

While the House of Cartoon competition is admirable, the same organization has also sponsored a similar competition with the theme of Holocaust-denial, poking fun at the German genocide of Jews (and others). Iran is notorious for opposing Israel and its policies. This may lead some to believe that Iran’s government is anti-Western and run by authoritarians, and this is partially true. Iran has lived under a repressive theocracy since the Revolution of 1979 and openly (and aggressively) criticizes American policy. Nevertheless, context of the uprising reveals that internal strife within the country was largely perpetuated by American meddling. The CIA has come clean about its 1953 mission to oust a democratically elected leader, inserting a royal figurehead who would protect Western oil interests. This eventually led to the revolution and subsequent theocracy

In spite of Iran’s authoritarian government, the anti-ISIS campaign is a powerful, non-violent effort to raise awareness about the gruesome nature of the terrorist organization. In a way, it challenges the entire Islamic State notion that they are representatives of God. Though it is not considered blasphemy to depict ISIS, the willingness of artists to portray ISIS’ ruthless actions shows courage in confronting their aggressive claims to power.

As Mohammed Habib, executive secretary of the contest explained,

Nowadays everyone around the world knows about the parasite by the name of Isis and what crimes they have committed against humanity and art and culture. Artists now have the duty to raise public awareness about this group by participating in such events.


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