Who Really Designed the Jewish War Monument in Iran?

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Thoufeek Zakriya's design (left) and the Iranian monument (right.)

The plot thickens.

Last week, Haaretz ran an article on a new monument in Iran for the Jewish soldiers who died in the Iran-Iraq War between 1980 and 1988. The unveiling of the monument was attended by leaders of the Iranian Jewish community and several Iranian religious officials.

Pictures of the monument were published by Iranian news agencies IRNA and Tasnim and republished by news media around the world.

A few days later, a comment was submitted to the Haaretz website by an Indian designer named Thoufeek Zakriya, who specializes in Arabic, Sanskrit – and Hebrew – calligraphy.

"That is great news," Zakriya wrote, "but the Menorah design engraved in the monument is copied from my work, which I designed in 2009 They added the word L'Olam on the bottom of my calligraphic work of the word Shalom, which I designed as a Menorah."

Zakriya is an Indian Muslim. A post on his blog dated November 2010 reveals a design that is virtually identical to the menorah on the monument, save for the addition of the word Olam, as he noted in his comment.

In an article on Zakriya's work published in October 2012, the Huffington Post wrote that he "is using his skills in the art of the ink flourishes to bridge Jewish and Muslim communities."

The article quoted Dr. Navras Aafreedi, an Assistant Professor in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Gautam Buddha University, as saying: "At a time when Jews and Muslims are sadly seen as natural adversaries, Thoufeek's Hebrew calligraphy emerges as yet another example of Muslim-Jewish amity from India.

"Thoufeek's work shows us that the way to peace is through the exploration of each other's culture and the commonalities between them. His work is a reminder of the shared cultural and religious heritage of Jews and Muslims, which definitely needs to be brought into sharper focus in such a manner that it overshadows the disputes, conflicts and differences."

Have the Iranians adopted Thoufeek Zakriya's approach?

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