sections

Why Are These Iranians ‘Really, Really Happy With Trump’?


- xxirancartoons1 facebookJumbo - Why Are These Iranians ‘Really, Really Happy With Trump’?


Photo
A visitor looking at satirical depictions of President Trump at the 2017 International Trumpism Cartoon and Caricature Contest in Tehran on Monday. Credit Abedin Taherkenareh/European Pressphoto Agency

TEHRAN — Mocking presidents of the Great Satan, the United States, has long been standard practice during state-backed rallies in Iran, where anti-Americanism is ingrained in state ideology.

For decades, Iranian revolutionary families would work late into the night to make sock puppets, cartoons and effigies of every American president since Jimmy Carter, then proudly parade them around during an anti-American protest and burn them in a bonfire.

Some would dress up with Uncle Sam top hats, Bill Clinton imitators would always have a big cigar hanging from his puppet mouth, and George W. Bush would be decorated with stars of David, to highlight the special relationship with Israel.

But as even the staunchest hard-liners would admit, the number of zealous protesters had dwindled over the years. In recent times, most people have been content just to pick up posters given to them by the authorities. Barack Obama’s outreach to Iran, brokering a nuclear agreement and giving up on regime change, was not good for the local sock puppet and effigy industry.

Continue reading the main story

But in President Trump the United States has a new, colorful president who hates Iran, and Iranian hard-line groups cannot believe their good luck. This Monday, at a cartoon and caricature contest where the only goal was to make fun of President Trump, the zealots were back in force.

Several winners received cash prizes in dollars for showing the president in the white robes of the Ku Klux Klan, sharing a Time magazine cover with Adolf Hitler, or as Captain America wielding the Statue of Liberty as a bludgeon.

Some of the cartoons were also hung across Tehran. One poster, featured prominently at a busy intersection, showed Mr. Trump doing something to the rear of an elephant, symbol of the Republican Party, while also wearing a swastika armband and with the decapitated head of Lady Liberty at its feet.

The winning caricature, worth a $1,500 cash prize, showed Mr. Trump in a suit made of $100 bills, his hair on fire and drool dripping from his mouth. Winning artists also received an abstract statue topped with a golden swoosh of Mr. Trump’s signature hairdo.

The date of the exhibition, July 3, is the anniversary of the downing of an Iranian passenger plane by the United States Navy in 1988 that killed all 290 people on board. While the Pentagon has always insisted the incident was a tragic mistake, many Iranians are convinced the plane was shot down to pressure Iran into ending its eight-year war with Iraq.

Photo
A billboard in Tehran shows a cartoon by Lézio Júnior of Brazil, a participant in a cartoon and caricature contest skewering President Trump. Credit Atta Kenare/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“We are really, really happy with Trump,” said Resalat Bouzari, a speaker at the event. “He shows the real face of the so-called United States democracy.” Everybody clapped, and when Iran’s national anthem played, stood up from their chairs to see a video of happy Iranians cheering for their country. Visitors were given books with the logo of the exhibition, a black-circled “T” on a white and red background, suggestive of the swastika that was present in several of the cartoons.

“Trump is the symbol of fascism and Nazism, and many investigated his statements and concluded they are similar to those made by Adolf Hitler,” said the organizer of the event, Masoud Shojaei-Tabataei. He has been organizing — or told to organize — cartoon contests for several years now.

He started after European newspapers began publishing cartoons depicting the prophet of Islam, Muhammad. In retaliation, Iran organized a Holocaust cartoon contest.

After seeing that people in the West became very upset by cartoons showing Jews with big noses drawing murder lines around nonexistent bodies while wearing placards saying “Holocaust,” they decided to turn the competition into a yearly event, with different themes.

“The importance is to test the limits of freedom of speech in the West,” Mr. Shojaei-Tabataei said in a recent interview.

Last year the competition focused on the Islamic State terror group, specifically how the group is an instrument of the West, as Iranian officials often say. There were lots of drawings of terrorists with American flags on their chests.

This year’s focus on “Trumpism” came after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a recent speech that Mr. Trump was the real face of America. Before that, the Iranian leadership had mostly not reacted openly to Mr. Trump, buying time while they tried to figure out what makes him tick.

“We now know that he is a lightweight and gets angry easily,” said Payman Babaei, a 26-year-old volunteer at the contest.

Mr. Babaei acknowledged that he would be upset if a similar contest in America made fun of Ayatollah Khamenei, but he said he had a good reason. “Our leader is the pinnacle of justice and a light for the world; Mr. Trump is just a showman.”

Still Mr. Babaei said he would not take his protest to the streets. “Nowadays, we do everything on social media. Much more effective.”

Continue reading the main story

TEHRAN — Mocking presidents of the Great Satan, the United States, has long been standard practice during state-backed rallies in Iran, where anti-Americanism is ingrained in state ideology.

For decades, Iranian revolutionary families would work late into the night to make sock puppets, cartoons and effigies of every American president since Jimmy Carter, then proudly parade them around during an anti-American protest and burn them in a bonfire.

Some would dress up with Uncle Sam top hats, Bill Clinton imitators would always have a big cigar hanging from his puppet mouth, and George W. Bush would be decorated with stars of David, to highlight the special relationship with Israel.

But as even the staunchest hard-liners would admit, the number of zealous protesters had dwindled over the years. In recent times, most people have been content just to pick up posters given to them by the authorities. Barack Obama’s outreach to Iran, brokering a nuclear agreement and giving up on regime change, was not good for the local sock puppet and effigy industry.

But in President Trump the United States has a new, colorful president who hates Iran, and Iranian hard-line groups cannot believe their good luck. This Monday, at a cartoon and caricature contest where the only goal was to make fun of President Trump, the zealots were back in force.

Several winners received cash prizes in dollars for showing the president in the white robes of the Ku Klux Klan, sharing a Time magazine cover with Adolf Hitler, or as Captain America wielding the Statue of Liberty as a bludgeon.

Some of the cartoons were also hung across Tehran. One poster, featured prominently at a busy intersection, showed Mr. Trump doing something to the rear of an elephant, symbol of the Republican Party, while also wearing a swastika armband and with the decapitated head of Lady Liberty at its feet.

The winning caricature, worth a $1,500 cash prize, showed Mr. Trump in a suit made of $100 bills, his hair on fire and drool dripping from his mouth. Winning artists also received an abstract statue topped with a golden swoosh of Mr. Trump’s signature hairdo.

The date of the exhibition, July 3, is the anniversary of the downing of an Iranian passenger plane by the United States Navy in 1988 that killed all 290 people on board. While the Pentagon has always insisted the incident was a tragic mistake, many Iranians are convinced the plane was shot down to pressure Iran into ending its eight-year war with Iraq.

“We are really, really happy with Trump,” said Resalat Bouzari, a speaker at the event. “He shows the real face of the so-called United States democracy.” Everybody clapped, and when Iran’s national anthem played, stood up from their chairs to see a video of happy Iranians cheering for their country. Visitors were given books with the logo of the exhibition, a black-circled “T” on a white and red background, suggestive of the swastika that was present in several of the cartoons.

“Trump is the symbol of fascism and Nazism, and many investigated his statements and concluded they are similar to those made by Adolf Hitler,” said the organizer of the event, Masoud Shojaei-Tabataei. He has been organizing — or told to organize — cartoon contests for several years now.

He started after European newspapers began publishing cartoons depicting the prophet of Islam, Muhammad. In retaliation, Iran organized a Holocaust cartoon contest.

After seeing that people in the West became very upset by cartoons showing Jews with big noses drawing murder lines around nonexistent bodies while wearing placards saying “Holocaust,” they decided to turn the competition into a yearly event, with different themes.

“The importance is to test the limits of freedom of speech in the West,” Mr. Shojaei-Tabataei said in a recent interview.

Last year the competition focused on the Islamic State terror group, specifically how the group is an instrument of the West, as Iranian officials often say. There were lots of drawings of terrorists with American flags on their chests.

This year’s focus on “Trumpism” came after Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in a recent speech that Mr. Trump was the real face of America. Before that, the Iranian leadership had mostly not reacted openly to Mr. Trump, buying time while they tried to figure out what makes him tick.

“We now know that he is a lightweight and gets angry easily,” said Payman Babaei, a 26-year-old volunteer at the contest.

Mr. Babaei acknowledged that he would be upset if a similar contest in America made fun of Ayatollah Khamenei, but he said he had a good reason. “Our leader is the pinnacle of justice and a light for the world; Mr. Trump is just a showman.”

Still Mr. Babaei said he would not take his protest to the streets. “Nowadays, we do everything on social media. Much more effective.”

Nytimes

log in

Captcha!

reset password

Back to
log in