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Iran summons French envoy over “insulting“ cartoons

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Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei attends a meeting with a group of Iranian women in Tehran, Iran January 4, 2023. Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

Iran summoned France’s envoy in Tehran on Wednesday to protest against “insulting” cartoons published by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo depicting the Islamic Republic’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian state media reported.

The French weekly had published dozens of cartoons about Khamenei, which it said were part of a competition it launched last month to support anti-government protests in Iran sparked by the death of a young woman in September while in the custody of morality police.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran does not accept insulting its Islamic, religious, and national sanctities and values in any way,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani told the French envoy on Wednesday, according to state TV.

The French Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Facing their worst legitimacy crisis since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran’s religious leaders have accused its foreign foes of orchestrating the anti-government mass protests to destabilise the country.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian earlier on Wednesday warned that the “offensive and indecent” move would receive a firm response from Tehran.

“We won’t allow the French government to go too far. They’ve definitely chosen the wrong path,” Amirabdollahian tweeted.

The magazine said it published the caricatures in a special edition to mark the anniversary of a deadly attack on its Paris office on Jan. 7, 2015 by Islamist militants, after the weekly had published cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed.

It said the contest aimed “to support the struggle of Iranians who are fighting for their freedom”.

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