Iranians Shout 'Death to France' at Protest

Iranians protest outside the French embassy in Tehran, calling for the ambassador be expelled because of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.

Ben Ariel ,

Latest Charlie Hebdo
Latest Charlie Hebdo

More than 2,000 Iranians protested on Monday outside the French embassy in Tehran, chanting "Death to France" and urging the ambassador be expelled because of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed, AFP reported.

The demonstration was in response to French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo's use of the cartoon in an edition published a week after 12 people were killed by Islamist gunmen at its Paris offices.

In the edition, released last week, the prophet is shown with a tear in his eye and holding a sign reading “Je suis Charlie”, under the headline "All is forgiven".

The image has angered many Muslims as depictions of Mohammed are widely considered forbidden in Islam, and has triggered protests in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, some of which turned deadly.

Iran denounced the Paris massacre but it also condemned the magazine's new cartoon, noted AFP.

Plans for Monday's protest led the French ambassador to announce that the embassy, located in busy downtown Tehran, would be closed all day.

The gathering, organized by students but attended by all age groups, was given a heavy security detail of around 150 Iranian police, and although noisy it passed off peacefully after two hours.

One speaker said the demonstration was to "condemn the insult of Charlie Hebdo," but also to denounce that "the embassy forces women to remove their veils to get a visa".

In Iran, women, regardless of their religious denomination, must have their hair and neck covered by a veil under a female dress code in force since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

"The least I can do is protest against this insult, we condemn insults of the prophet," a woman in her 50s wearing a traditional head-to-toe black chador told AFP.

Those gathered also criticized Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for being in Paris for a meeting with United States Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday.

The organizers in a final statement asked Zarif to apologies for making the trip "just two days after this disgraceful cartoon was published," also demanding the French ambassador be expelled.

The magazine’s new issue sold out across France in record time, but the Muslim world has not been as sympathetic.

The Afghan Taliban on Thursday condemned its publication of further Mohammed cartoons and praised the gunmen, saying they were "bringing the perpetrators of the obscene act to justice".

Angry opponents in countries from Pakistan and Turkey, the Philippines and Mauritania have staged protests over the new cartoons.

A Turkish court ordered a block on websites featuring images of the cover, while Senegal said it was banning the dissemination of Wednesday's editions of Charlie Hebdo and the French daily Liberation, which also put a cartoon of the Mohammed on the front page.

In Niger, there were protests in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo over the weekend. In response, Islamists set churches and bars ablaze, leaving at least ten dead.