Iranian mullahs have choked on caricatures of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, supreme guide of the theocratic regime, in the latest issue of the Parisian satirical weekly
After threatening "a firm and effective response" to the cartoons, Iran announced on Thursday the closure of the French Institute for Research in Iran (Ifri), a small cultural body under the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The end of Ifri's activities in Tehran is "a first stage", according to a statement from the Iranian Foreign Ministry quoted by Agence France Presse (AFP).
The institute, according to its website, was created in 1983 after the merger of the French Archaeological Delegation in Iran, founded in 1897, and the French Institute of Iranology, founded in 1947 by the orientalist Henry Corbin.
It is based in the center of the Iranian capital, where it organizes conferences and hosts scholarship researchers.
On Wednesday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the French ambassador to the Persian country, Nicolas Roche, to inform him that "France has no right to insult the sanctities of other nations and Islamic countries under the pretext of freedom of expression." .
Iranian diplomacy spokesman Nasser Kanaani told Roche that the Islamic Republic "holds the French government responsible for these disgusting, sacrilegious and unjustified actions."
On the same day, the head of Iranian diplomacy, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, wrote on the social network Twitter: "The insulting and inappropriate decision of a French newspaper to publish a cartoon against the political and religious authority will not go without a firm and effective response. .
We do not allow the French government to cross the line.
They have taken a wrong path."
In an interview with the LCI network, Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna replied: "Let's just remember that in France freedom of the press exists, unlike in Iran, and it is exercised under the control of judges in the framework of a independent judiciary, something Iran no doubt knows little about.”
The friction between Iran and France occurs against a background of protracted diplomatic tensions.
The Tehran regime is subject to international and European Union sanctions for its nuclear program and violation of human rights.
Eight French citizens, whom Paris considers hostage, are being held in Iran, some accused of espionage.
Khamenei's drawings appear in a special edition of
, published this Wednesday on the occasion of the eighth anniversary of the attack on January 7, 2015. That day, two jihadists armed with Kalashnikovs broke into the weekly's office and murdered 12 people for have caricatured Muhammad.
Khamenei's 35 cartoons are a selection of 300 submitted by cartoonists from around the world in response to a contest held by the weekly last December.
In addition to commemorating the attack, the special issue coincides with a wave of anti-regime protests in Iran.
"It was a way of showing our support for the Iranians who are risking their lives to defend their freedom against the theocracy that has oppressed them since 1979," writes Riss, director of the weekly.
“It was also a way of remembering that the reasons why
's cartoonists and editors were murdered eight years ago, unfortunately, are still topical.
Those who refuse to submit to the dictates of religions risk paying with their lives."
The fold-out cover is occupied entirely by a drawing by Riss himself in which a row of Ayatollahs can be seen entering the vagina of a naked woman with her legs spread.
The title is:
Mullahs, go back to where you came from
On the inside pages, caricatures of Khamenei can be seen, some of them of a sexual nature, but not all.
In another cartoon, Khamenei appears sodomizing the recently deceased Pope Benedict XVI while he tells him: "And if we tried to reproduce ourselves?"
There is no news that the Vatican or the French episcopate have protested.
Riss recalls in his article that, in 1993, Tehran organized a cartoon contest for the writer Salman Rushdie, who was sentenced to death by this same regime four years earlier after the publication of the novel
The Satanic Verses
At that time,
responded by publishing some twenty satirical cartoons about the Islamic Republic.
On August 12, as he was preparing to give a lecture in western New York state, Rushdie was stabbed to death by Hadi Matar, a 24-year-old man who was attempting to carry out the sentence handed down by Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran 33 years earlier.
The writer has lost sight in one eye, in addition to other sequelae.
The journalist Philippe Lançon, who survived the Charlie Hebdo
attack with serious injuries
, dedicates his weekly column to Rushdie, “a man sentenced to death without debate and without appeal for having written a novel”.
And he remembers that February 14 will be the 34th anniversary of the fatwa against the author of
The Satanic Verses
“This date marks a ground shift: the extreme censorship demanded by a State is globalizing and spreading through angry and moralizing masses at a speed that social networks, twenty years later, will multiply.
Imagine the hell of Salman Rushdie if the fatwa were pronounced today."
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