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Printing of 1937 US caricature in Iranian daily provokes protests

Tehran, Jan 11, IRNA -- The re-print of a caricature originally published in a US daily in 1937 in an Iranian newspaper on its Wednesday edition provoked protests among Friday prayer worshipers in several major Iranian cities, including Qom, Shahroud, Birjand and Isfahan on Friday.

The caricature in question shows a white bearded bald man, wearing a long black cloak, sitting, while a huge hand above his head has pointed his thumb at the man's head and is pushing him down.

The word "Roosevelt" is clearly seen on the sleeve of the hand that is pushing his thumb on the sitting man's head. There are a bunch of scattered books around the man sitting on the ground, and a pair of scales, apparently the symbol of justice and the judiciary system is seen laying on the ground.

The protesters, a group of whom in Qom were led by former judiciary chief and former Guardian Council member Ayatollah Mohammad Yazdi, have found a similarity between the early 20th century US judge in the caricature, and the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini (PBUH).

They have asked the judiciary head to act firmly against the daily, and threatened to step forward themselves otherwise.

The ralliers have also bitterly criticized President Seyyed Mohammad Khatami, the Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister Ahmad Masjed-Jameie, and the Managing Director of the daily in question, "Hayat-e-Nou", Hojjatoleslam Seyyed Hadi Khamenei.

The Managing Director of the Iranian Dailies at the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, Mehrnoush Ja'fari said on Friday that since the caricature in question has intrigued the minds of certain readers, and since the accusation against the daily that has published it are of high sensitivity, the Council to Monitor the Performance of the Press would survey the matter at its first session.

Expressing regret over the occurrence of the problem, Ja'fari referred to the explanation published in Hayat-e-Nou's Friday edition, which indicates that the 1937 caricature (of 65 years ago) is actually on a dispute between the US administration and that country's judiciary system of the time.

He added, "since the daily has not referred to the source of the archives caricature, unfortunately some people have got biassed assumptions."

Ja'fari said that Hayat-e-Nou has voluntarily decided to stop its publication for two days, and begged the pardon of those who feel they have been insulted.

Hayat-e-Nou, whose managing director is the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution's brother, in a message faxed to IRNA explained that the 1937 caricature that criticizes ignoring the intellectual assets of a society and the threats posed on the society due to such behavior, has nothing to do with Iran and our internal affairs.

The daily has also given the Internet address of the site in which the caricature and the necessary explanation on understanding the atmosphere in which it was drawn can be found as: "".

"Those colleagues of us who selected this caricature from the Internet have only cared about matching it with the article with which they have published it, having no ill intentions in mind," argues the explanatory note of Hayat-e-Nou that is also published in Friday edition of the daily.

"In order to respect our society's public opinion, and to clear the resulted misunderstanding, Hayat-e-Nou would not be published on Saturday and Sunday and our next edition would appear on news stands on Monday, January 13," reads the notice that seeks being forgiven of the daily by those who feel they have been insulted.

... Payvand News - 1/11/03 ... --

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