The Lebanese armed group Hezbollah on Tuesday condemned cartoons recently published by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that mocked Iran’s ruling clerics, and urged France to sanction the publication.
Hezbollah, which is supported by Iran, said the offensive cartoons had been an “ugly magazine act” against Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, revered as a spiritual leader by tens of millions of practicing Shiites around the world. including Lebanon.
France did not immediately comment.
Charlie Hebdo has a long history of publishing vulgar cartoons mocking Islamists, something critics say is highly insulting to Muslims. Two French-born al Qaeda extremists attacked the magazine’s office in 2015, killing 12 workers. The outlet has suffered other attacks over the years.
Its latest issue included the winning cartoons from a contest asking participants to draw their most offensive versions of Khamenei. The contest was presented as a show of support for the anti-government protests that have rocked Iran for months.
One finalist drew a turbaned cleric reaching for a gallows knot as he choked on blood, while another showed Khamenei clinging to a massive throne above the raised fists of protesters. Others showed more vulgar or sexually explicit scenes.
“We call on the French government to take decisive action to punish those responsible for the act of aggression against dignitaries of an entire nation,” Hezbollah said in a statement. “The French government (…) must not be an ally in this offense.”
Members of Hezbollah, a Shiite group, also consider Khamenei their religious leader.
Charlie Hebdo, who has published equally offensive cartoons about dead migrant children, virus victims, neo-Nazis, popes, Jewish leaders and other well-known people, presents himself as a defender of democracy and free speech. But it often skirts the limits of French hate speech laws, with often-sexual caricatures directed at virtually everyone.
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