Syed Zafar Mehdi: Iran strongly condemned the republishing of sacrilegious caricatures insulting the Prophet Mohammad by a notorious French magazine.
The provocative move by Charlie Hebdo, a left-wing French magazine infamous for publishing anti-Islamic content, has drawn widespread anger and outrage across the Muslim world.
The caricatures were first published in 2006 by a Danish newspaper Jylllands Posten, sparking a wave of protests across the world then.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that any irreverence to the prophet of Islam or other divine prophets is “unacceptable” for Muslims of the world.
“The French magazine’s offensive move, which has been repeated on the pretext of freedom of speech, has hurt the sentiments of the monotheists,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said.
He described the republishing of cartoons as a “provocative move” that amounts to an “insult to the Islamic values and beliefs of over one billion Muslims in the world.”
French President Emmanuel Macron refused to take action against the magazine owners, defending the move under the garb of “freedom of expression”.
Khatibzadeh, however, said the freedom of expression has a “great value” and must be used in a “constructive way” in line with the idea of peaceful co-existence and understanding among religions.
Many clergymen in Iran also condemned the blasphemous move by the French magazine.
Mohammad Reza Zarie Khormizi, a senior cleric and academic from the city of Qom, told Anadolu Agency that the move was “a deliberate attempt” to hurt the sentiments of Muslims.
“It is not happening for the first time and needs to be condemned in strongest terms,” he said. “Such acts are driven by their hatred for Islamic values and disrespect for revered Islamic figures.”
Prominent Iranian cartoonist Mazyar Bijani, while condemning the move, said it is a conspiracy against Islam and Muslims carried out by their enemies for a long time.
Last week a copy of Muslim holy book Quran was desecrated in Sweden by far-right extremist groups, which also drew strong reaction in Muslim countries.
Ayatollah Alireza Arafi, who heads the religious seminaries in Iran, termed it a “ridiculous act” and called on the international community to “take strong notice” of this extremism.