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Iran threatens French magazine Charlie Hebdo with Salman Rushdie-like fate for publishing cartoons on Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine, recently published cartoons ridiculing Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, amid an irrepressible wave of protests sparked following the custodial death of a 22-year-old woman Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by religious police under stringent hijab laws.

On January 11, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards issued threats to France and the editors of a French satirical magazine named Charlie Hebdo that they might meet the same fate as Salman Rushdie, the author of Satanic Verses who was attacked last year. The threat came after the magazine published additional cartoons ridiculing Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Rushdie has been threatened with execution since the publication of his controversial novel named ‘The Satanic Verses’ in the 1980s. He was forced to go into hiding for over ten years while the book provoked fury in Islamic countries, and in 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s then-supreme leader, issued a fatwa demanding Muslims murder the author. Rushdie was also attacked at a literary event in New York last year, suffering serious injuries.

“I advise the French and directors of the Charlie Hebdo magazine to take a look at the fate of Salman Rushdie. Do not play with Muslims. Salman Rushdie insulted the Qur’an and the Holy Prophet of Islam 30 years ago and hid in dangerous places. Sooner or later, Muslims will take revenge and you may arrest the avengers, but the dead will not rise again,” Major General Hossein Salami said on January 11.

The magazine editor, Laurent Sourisseau, known as Riss, responded to the threats by saying that he would publish more cartoons of Iran clerics. “The mullahs aren’t happy. The caricatures of their supreme leader… do not seem to have made them laugh. It is an honour in one sense, but above all proves that they feel their power is very fragile,” Riss was quoted as saying.

Charlie Hebdo releases caricatures on Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

The saga began when Charlie Hebdo released the winning sketches in a competition that asked people all over the globe to create the most repulsive caricatures of the Iranian leader as an expression of solidarity with the Iranian protest movement.

The publishing of the caricatures heightened tensions between Iran and France, with the latter shutting the French Institute for Research. The closing of the institute was described by Iran’s Foreign Ministry as a first step in response to the cartoons, and the country promised to actively pursue the case and take the necessary steps to make the country accountable.

In response to these threats, the satirical magazine doubled down and produced another magazine cover mocking Iran last week. According to the reports, the sketch published later depicts Mullahs entering and exiting a nude woman’s womb as her legs are exposed on the cover. “It took us a week to find the exit,” the caption read.

Reports mention that the satirical magazine was also hit by a cyber attack after publishing the caricatures initially. Riss also responded to this in the editorial saying that “a digital attack doesn’t leave anyone dead, but it sets the tone. The mullah’s regime feels in such danger that it considers it vital to its existence to hack the website of a French newspaper.”

Earlier, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian termed the release of Khamenei’s cartoons an “insult to the sanctities,” accusing Israel of being behind the action. Some government officials and organizations in other nations have decried the threats and urged for more pressure against Iran’s authorities.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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