Iran rebuked the French government and shut down a French cultural center in Tehran after the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published a series of cartoons ridiculing the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
(Bloomberg) — Iran rebuked the French government and shut down a French cultural center in Tehran after the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published a series of cartoons ridiculing the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday it was reviewing all French cultural activities in Iran and had suspended the French Institute for Research in Tehran in response to the caricatures of the top cleric.
France’s Foreign Minister, Catherine Colonna, dismissed the outrage and said Iran “practices violence against its own population” and, unlike France, doesn’t have freedom of the press, according to an interview she gave to news channel LCI TV on Thursday.
The cartoons, published in Charlie Hebdo’s latest issue, are the result of an open call by the magazine last month for caricatures of Khamenei in response to his deadly crackdown on widespread anti-government protests.
The protests were triggered by the death in custody in September of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, a woman who’d been arrested in Tehran for allegedly flouting Islamic dress codes. The unrest has emerged as the biggest challenge to Iran’s theocratic leadership since the 1979 revolution.
On Wednesday, the French Ambassador in Tehran, Nicolas Roche, was summoned to the foreign ministry to hear Iran’s “strong protest” against the magazine’s “obscene actions”. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian also condemned the cartoons, warning in a tweet, “we won’t allow the French government to overstep the mark.”
Charlie Hebdo has been attacked for publishing cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad, which many Muslims find offensive. In January 2015, 12 of its staff were shot dead by two gunmen who’d stormed the magazine’s offices.
(Updates with reaction from French foreign minister, Iran’s foreign ministry)
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