Iran calls in French envoy over magazine’s vulgar Khamenei cartoons

Iran has summoned the French ambassador to condemn the publication of offensive caricatures of the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The magazine has a long history of publishing vulgar cartoons mocking Islamists, which critics say are deeply insulting to Muslims. Two French-born al-Qaeda extremists attacked the newspaper’s office in 2015, killing 12 cartoonists, and it has been the target of other attacks over the years.

Its January issue features the winners of a recent cartoon contest in which entrants were asked to draw the most offensive caricatures of Khamenei, who has held Iran’s highest office since 1989. The contest was billed as a show of support for anti-government protests rocking Iran.

One of the finalists depicts a turbaned cleric reaching for a hangman’s noose as he drowns in blood, while another shows Khamenei clinging to a giant throne above the raised fists of protesters. Others depict more vulgar and sexually explicit scenes.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian vows a “decisive and effective response” to the publication of the cartoons, which he says insulted Iran’s religious and political authorities.

The French government, while defending free speech, has rebuked the privately-owned magazine in the past for fanning tensions.

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