Mohammad Javad Zarif
Mohammad Javad ZarifReuters

Iran has condemned as a "provocation" French magazine Charlie Hebdo's republication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed to mark the opening of the trial into a 2015 attack on its offices by Islamist

In a statement issued late Thursday, the Foreign Ministry said the reissue of the cartoons, first published by a Danish newspaper in 2005, was an "insult" to more than one billion Muslims around the world.

"The offensive act by the French publication... is a provocation," the Ministry said.

"Any insult or disrespect towards Islam's holy prophet... or the other prophets of God (the Jewish and Christian figures also recognized by Muslims)... is absolutely unacceptable," it added.

It called for freedom of expression to be used in a constructive manner to forge "greater understanding between religions."

Twelve people, including some of France's most celebrated cartoonists, were killed on January 7, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi went on a gun rampage at the magazine's Paris offices.

The perpetrators were killed in the wake of the massacre but 14 alleged accomplices in the attacks, which also targeted a Jewish supermarket, went on trial in Paris on Wednesday.

Despite its outrage at the cartoons, Iran condemned the deadly attack on the paper's offices.