June 16, 2020 Special Dispatch No. 8800

Iranian Exhibition Of Anti-U.S. Cartoons Featuring 'I Can't Breathe,' Swastikas, Hitler, KKK

June 16, 2020
Iran | Special Dispatch No. 8800

An exhibition of anti-U.S. cartoons in Tehran titled "I Can't Breathe," that opened June 12, 2020, was billed by its organizers as a condemnation of the U.S. racism exemplified by the May 2020 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis while in police custody.

The exhibition's opening ceremony was attended by exhibition secretary Masoud Shojaei Tabatabaei; Mohsen Momeni Sharif, director of the Art Center of the Iranian regime’s Islamic Propaganda Organization; former Majlis member Mojtaba Rahmandoust; author and researcher Majid Sarsangi, and cartoonist Maziyar Bizhani.[1] Tabatabaei had been in charge of previous cartoon exhibitions held by the Iranian regime, including a series of Holocaust International Cartoon Contests focusing on Holocaust denial[2] and another exhibition focusing on criticism of the UK's Iran policy.[3]   

To view the MEMRI TV clip of an Iranian Press TV report on the exhibition, click here or below:  

Tabatabaei explained on the website of the Art Center on June 14: "The name of this exhibition is from [Iranian Supreme] Leader Khamenei's statements in his [June 3, 2020] televised speech marking the 31st anniversary of Imam [Ayatollah Ruhollah] Khomeini’s death. Also in the foreword to the book [on the exhibition] which includes the works submitted by the artists of the world to this exhibition, we quoted the Supreme Leader on this matter [of U.S. racism]. Khamenei said: 'When a police officer holds his knee on a black man's neck and presses hard for several minutes with total inattention while the man keeps imploring and begging him to stop, while the police officer keeps doing it until he dies and while the other policemen just watch without taking any action to stop him  ̶  this is not a new incident. This runs in the nature of America! This is what the Americans have done to the whole world.'"

"The exhibition [organizers]," he continued, "received 72 works by 45 cartoonists from 27 countries in just three days. We are now working on the digital version of the book, which will be posted online during the exhibition, including on the website of the Visual Arts Center and on the 'Iran Cartoons' website..."

He went on to emphasize: "We visual artists will not keep silent in the face of this incident. With our art, we will show the pain and suffering caused by the thinking of the American administration, which always claims [to support] human rights. America does not appreciate its citizens; it acts in a racist manner and violates human rights while claiming to defend them. Iran has always been the standard-bearer of the pursuit of justice, coming to the aid of the oppressed  all over the world. We have always been at the forefront of visual art [as part of] this process."[4]

Swastika crushing George Floyd, with text "I can't breathe!" (Source:, June 14, 2020)

This report presents cartoons from the exhibition, as published by the Mehr news agency on June 10, 2020. The cartoons shown feature swastikas, U.S. President Donald Trump equated with Hitler and kneeling on black men, Ku Klux Klan figures, and American symbols such as the Statue of Liberty weeping for or killing black people.

President Trump crushes George Floyd's neck

President Trump equated with Hitler

Depiction of a white "S" in U.S. kneeling on the neck of a black "U"'; black man with boot print on his neck

White U.S. police officer crushes neck of black American while brandishing American hamburger and Coke

Hooded Ku Klux Klan-type figures holding Statue of Liberty's torch, cutting down a flower

Uncle Sam depicted as a gunslinging boxer

Statue of Liberty depicted brandishing rifle, holding sign, pumping fist, and weeping  

Organizers at exhibition opening against backdrop of cartoon of Trump kneeling on black man, with Statue of Liberty crown and torch

Exhibition organizers presenting exhibition book, pointing out cartoon featuring officer kneeling on Floyd's neck with Trump atop Statue of Liberty calling to "shoot protestors"


[1], June 10, 2020.

[2] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6412, Iranian Journalists: Foreign Minister Zarif Lied To U.S. Media When He Said Iranian Regime, Gov't Have No Connection To Iranian Holocaust Cartoon Contest, May 5, 2016. The first exhibition was held in 2006, under the auspices of then-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; the second was in 2015, under the auspices of a cultural organization belonging to Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). See also MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1397, Iran Holocaust Denial Conference Announces Plan to Establish World Foundation for Holocaust Studies – To Be Eventually Based in Berlin and Headed by Iranian Presidential Advisor Mohammad Ali Ramin Who Has Said: 'The Resolution of the Holocaust Issue Will End in the Destruction of Israel', December 15, 2006.

[4], June 14, 2020.

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