Iran closes French institute after publication of cartoons

Iran announced Thursday the closure of the oldest and most important French study center in the country, as a first response to the publication by a French satirical magazine of cartoons deemed insulting to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

The Iranian authorities had warned France on Wednesday that they would take measures after the publication the same day by Charlie Hebdo of these cartoons featuring the highest religious and political figure of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“(…) The ministry is putting an end to the activities of the French Institute for Research in Iran (IFRI) as a first step,” the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

According to its website, IFRI is affiliated with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Asked by AFP, the French embassy in Tehran said it had no immediate comment.

In its statement, the Iranian ministry accuses the French authorities of “continued inaction in the face of expressions of anti-Islamism and the spread of racist hatred in French publications”.

He asks the French government to demand accountability from the “authors (of the propagation) of such hatred”, stressing that the “Iranian people” would follow “seriously” the response that France would provide.

The ministry also calls on Paris to lead “a serious fight against Islamophobia”.

The cartoons published in the satirical newspaper were selected as part of a competition launched in December, as demonstrations continued in Iran to protest the September 16 death in custody of Mahsa Amini, an Iranian Kurd arrested for violates the country’s strict dress code.

– Ambassador summoned –

Iranian officials, who generally denounce such protests as “riots”, say hundreds of people have been killed, including members of the security forces, and thousands more arrested.

Charlie Hebdo maintained in December that this “international competition” aimed to support “Iranians who are fighting for their freedom”.

The issue contains several sexual cartoons featuring Ayatollah Khamenei and other Iranian clerics, as well as cartoons exposing Iran’s use of capital punishment as a tactic to intimidate protesters.

Two Iranians were executed for their involvement in the protests.

The head of French diplomacy, Catherine Colonna, at the Baghdad II conference, in Sweimeh, Jordan, on December 20, 2022 (AFP – Khalil MAZRAAWI)

Before the announcement of the closure of the IFRI, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna indicated that “freedom of the press exists (in France) contrary to what is happening in Iran”, recalling that the offense of blasphemy does not exist in French law.

“The bad policy is the one followed by Iran which practices violence against its own population”, she added Thursday, questioned on the French television channel LCI.

On Wednesday, his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian denounced “an insulting and indecent act” which “will not remain without a firm response”.

French Ambassador to Iran Nicolas Roche was summoned the same day by Foreign Affairs in Tehran.

– “Hateful act” –

“Iran in no way accepts the insult of its (…) Islamic, religious and national values ​​(…) and France has no right to insult what is sacred (.. .) for Muslim countries under the guise of freedom of speech,” ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani said on Wednesday.

Iran “considers the French government responsible for this heinous, insulting and unjustified act”, he added.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Hassan Rouhani (L) and newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, August 3, 2021, (KHAMENEI.IR/AFP/Archives - -)
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Hassan Rouhani (L) and newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, August 3, 2021, (KHAMENEI.IR/AFP/Archives – -)

The headquarters of IFRI, in the center of Tehran, had been closed for many years. It had reopened under the presidency of the moderate Hassan Rohani (2013-2021) as a sign of the warming of Franco-Iranian relations. It includes a rich library, used by students of the French language and Iranian scholars.

IFRI was born in 1983 after the merger of the French Archaeological Delegation in Iran (DAFI), created in 1897, and the French Institute of Iranology in Tehran (IFIT), founded in 1947 by Henry Corbin, according to its website .

Add a Comment