Iranian Animation Legend Banned From Teaching

Noureddin Zarrinkelk

Noureddin Zarrinkelk, one of Iran’s most celebrated animation figures and a fine art professor at Tehran University, was thrown out of his teaching job last week for “insulting the Islamic hijab.” The 70-year-old Zarrinkelk has directed over a dozen shorts and various long-form projects, written and illustrated numerous books, founded Iran’s first animation school in 1974, started the country’s ASIFA chapter, and most recently, served a term as the president of ASIFA International. According to an Iranian paper, the incident was sparked “during a classroom discussion over an image of a bald angel drawn by a student when [Zarrinkelk] asked the woman if she wore the full veil because she herself was bald.” The subtle undertone of his comment, as reported by the New York Times, was that Zarrinkelk was asking, “Why be afraid of the beauty of a woman’s hair?” He has currently been banned from teaching at any Iranian university. Zarrinkelk has an English website here.


  • Doug

    Wow. Unbelievable how one very subtle comment can be the end of a teaching career. I wonder if this now puts him under higher scrutiny (or was he before?) and if his future work will suffer. We need to hear these stories to remind ourselves how fortunate we are in the U.S. and to make us aware of what a pathetic state free speech is in some in other parts of the world. Thanks.

  • Paul

    It’s not one world…

  • http://www.filmjourney.org Doug C

    Doug, I think a lot of corporate animators would disagree with you about the extent of their “free speech.” If it’s not a government, it’s the bottom dollar.

    Amid, thanks for posting this — you consistently find such fascinating and important news items!

  • http://www.blendfilms.com pat smith

    very sad to hear this story. people like zarrinkelk are so important. i hope he finds another place to teach. huge loss for the school.

  • DanO

    Its not government that has silenced him, but the intolerant ideology of radical Islam. 14th century religious doctirnes have no place in the modern world. Banned for simply joking about conservative dress…unreal.

  • http://potulentpalaver.blogspot.com/ Kent Butterworth

    In the words of Donald Duck:
    Boy am I glad to be a citizen of the United States of America!

  • http://demianjohnston.blogspot.com Demian

    That is very sad. there are not enough people who know what they are doing teaching these days. The no hair thing is getting kinda old. I get tired of trying to be understanding of wacky caveman practices. Ugh. The whole world is just plain silly sometimes.

    Maybe he can teach here!

  • http://demianjohnston.blogspot.com Demian

    Also. That is an unfortunate beard to have when people take photos from that particular angle.

  • Quiet_Desperation

    If the guy is really smart, he’d get out of Dodgeran. Maybe Pixar could float him an offer.

    >>> Its not government that has silenced him,
    >>> but the intolerant ideology of radical Islam

    Honestly, is there that much of a distinction? The Qanun-e Asasi is pretty much an Islamic constitution, and the Majles have to be approved by clerics.

  • JG

    That’s sad…

    And I thought U.S. was the top of absurdity when a few drawing instructors got the sack over suggesting life drawing classes to highschoolers (about a year back).

  • http://www.shamoozal.com Frank Summers

    doug C, the important distinction you’re missing here is that, sure, an animator could say the wrong thing at a studio and get the boot. however, if his skills are good enough he can get a job at another studio. this man basically got fired because he “broke the law” and not because he may have been caught making a snide remark about the director’s daughter or that the script he’s working on sucks, but because he expressed some religious freedom.

    now MAYBE it could be argued that the same thing could happen here in the states. hypothetically speaking, if a teacher began to insult one of his students based on their religious preference, he could lose his job as long as the case was made that he went so far out of his way as to publicly humiliate the student. however, the difference here is that the teacher, an individual and not a form of government, would be stamping on the student’s inherent freedoms.

  • Bob Lindstrom

    This is a terrible thing and shocking to Americans. However, Don Imus just lost his job in the US for something he said that was deemed offensive, too. I don’t think Americans have reason to feel smug over this.

  • Chuck R.

    Good point, Bob!

    I was tempted to argue that Don Imus lost his job to the court of public opinion, but I don’t remember anyone polling his listeners before firing him. A few powerful lobbyists took him down.

    I also agree with Frank. If Imus has talent beyond being able to provoke people, he’ll get a second chance in America.

  • http://www.shamoozal.com Frank Summers

    bob i dont think anyone feels “smug”. additionally you are completely missing the point. imus was fired due to pressures from a particular group that felt (rightly so) slighted, and he was dismissed by a private organization. the united states of america did not fire don imus. essentially, the iranian government fired zarrinkelk on the grounds that he “broke” the law.

  • http://demianjohnston.blogspot.com Demian

    That is a very good distinction to make. We also must remember that Imus is a complete waste of human organs. I swear to god the world got slightly better the morning I woke up and found out that leather purse of a man got his walking papers. In fact i think my athlete’s foot cleared up that day.

  • Andrew

    I’ve met this guy, and frankly he doesnt know anything about animation, the only reason his name is kind of famous is becasue he was among the first people in iran who did experimental animation, but he’s stayed in 40 years ago and hasnt learnd a new thing ever since. he didnt even know about the Illusion of Life when I mentioned the book to him, his best work consists of some birds fly cycle on 3rds, he’s never even done full animation before. so its not a big loss to anyone.

  • Bob Lindstrom

    With all respect, Frank, I do understand the distinction. However, whether the instrument of censure is governmental or industrial, the result is the same and, IMO, a disturbing indicator of the erosion of free speech. (FYI, I couldn’t care less about Don Imus.)

  • Naq

    Hi
    I want to say that even though Mr ZarInkelk is an experienced teacher
    He can’t insult 1.5 billion human,
    His making fun of hijab is actually his making fun of all Muslims,
    It is his fault and I believe that he must apology for his action.
    If you reader really believe in human rights how can u crush the feelings
    Of 1.5 billion people under your feet by suppOrting Mr Zarinkelk for
    His wrong action, if u believe so then u cannot claim that u have
    Conscience.
    Surely he did wrong and for every wrong action there is a measure
    Which must be taken by law.