DUBAI, United Arab Emirates ( Associated Press) — Iran on Wednesday summoned the French ambassador to condemn the publication in French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo of an offensive caricature of the country’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The magazine has a long history of running cartoons mocking Islamists and what critics have called deeply insulting Muslims. Two Al Qaeda extremists of French origin attacked the weekly’s offices in 2015, killing 12 cartoonists, and it has been the target of other attacks in recent years.
Its January issue featured the winners of a recent cartoon contest in which entrants were asked to draw the most offensive cartoon of Khamenei, who has held Iran’s highest office since 1989. The competition was billed as a show of support for the anti-government protests. Recently Iran has been shaken.
One of the shortlisted cartoons depicts a turbaned cleric reaching for the hangman’s noose as he is covered in blood. Another showed Khamenei clinging to a giant throne above the raised fists of protesters. Others depict rather vulgar and sexually explicit scenes.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian promised a “decisive and effective response” to the publication of the cartoons, which he said insulted Iran’s religious and political authorities.
Although the French government defends free speech, it has already reprimanded the private magazine for raising tensions.
The country has been gripped by protests for nearly four months following the death in mid-September of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was detained by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the country’s strict Islamic dress code. I had taken