BEIRUT ( Associated Press) – Lebanon’s armed group Hezbollah on Tuesday condemned a recent cartoon published by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo mocking Iran’s ruling clerics and urged France to approve the publication.
Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran, said the offending cartoon was an “ugly magazine act” against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, revered as a spiritual leader by millions of practicing Shiites around the world, including in Lebanon it was done.
France did not immediately comment.
Charlie Hebdo has a long history of publishing obscene cartoons mocking Islamists, which critics say are highly offensive to Muslims. Two French-born Al Qaeda extremists attacked the magazine’s offices in 2015, killing 12 employees. The outlet has faced other attacks over the years.
Its latest issue included the winning cartoons from a contest in which participants were asked to draw their most offensive versions of Khamenei. The contest was presented as a show of support for the anti-government protests that have rocked Iran for months.
One finalist depicted a turbaned cleric leading the gallows as he lay covered in blood, while another showed Khamenei clinging to a giant throne above the raised fists of protesters. Others featured more vulgar or sexually explicit scenes.
“We call on the French government to take decisive action to bring to justice those responsible for acts of aggression against dignitaries throughout the country,” Hezbollah said in a statement. “The French government (…) should not be an accomplice in this crime.”
Members of the Shia group Hezbollah also regard Khamenei as their religious leader.
Charlie Hebdo, which has published equally offensive cartoons about dead migrant children, virus victims, neo-Nazis, the pope, Jewish leaders and other famous people, presents itself as a defender of democracy and free speech. But it often crossed the boundaries of French hate speech laws, with the often sexually oriented caricatures directed at almost everyone.