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Iranian cartoonist spared 25 lashes after MP withdraws complaint

Iranian cartoon depicting MP of wearing football jersey

Guardian reporter Saeed Kamali Dehghan, who has provided the most details on the Iranian cartoonist sentenced to 25 lashes for depicting a local Prime Minister in a soccer jersey, is now reporting that the sentence against cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraye will most likely be quashed after the MP withdrew his complaint after international outcry.

From the Guardian:

In a statement, Ashtiani attempted to exonerate himself by blaming the court for the sentence of lashing, saying he merely sued the publication for defamation but the court, instead, condemned the cartoonist.

“Following my complaint against [Nameye] Amir for a series of unjust allegations, the court sentenced the paper’s cartoonist to 25 lashes,” he said in quotes carried by Fars. “I did so in protest at using unethical ways to make unjust allegations, therefore I hereby withdraw my complaint against this artist.”

Community Comments

#1 Dave Stephens
@ 1:19 pm

Lemme translate that:

“The court is my puppet and I have demonstrated that monstrous truth, so I shall now pull a single string to stop the court from doing my bidding… As long as you OBEY you may continue to live your life under my thumb…”

#2 Gerry Mooney
@ 2:56 pm

Still pathetic that it took international outrage to get this overturned. But I like the part about cartoonists both in Iran and around the world piling on by drawing caricatures of the MP. I especially like this bit: “…proving once more the power of cartoons, and that you cross cartoonists at your peril.”

#3 Mike Peterson
@ 3:47 am

I have no way, of course, if knowing it applies in this case, but, in general, there is a Bombast Factor at work in the Middle East that we would do well to mark, particularly in countries like Iran where there is a serious divide between the extremists and the realists, and the street is on the side of the realists.

One example was several years ago when some British marines strayed too close to the Iranian side of the Strait of Hormuz and were seized by the Iranian Coast Guard. The Iranian Navy is under command of the government and would never have done that — they’d have run them off but not tried to capture them, and it would have been another non-event in the Gulf. But the CG is under the command of the Supreme Council, the religious hardliners.

The trick is to bring the matter up in a way that doesn’t allow it to be ignored but doesn’t get anybody’s pride too tangled in the outcome. In this case, the official government intervened with the mullahs and the Brits were released unharmed in a couple of days.

Hot air and threats are part of how things are done over there. It takes a safecracker’s touch to be able to publicize these situations so they don’t actually happen, but to do it without backing the blowhard into a corner where he feels compelled to follow through.

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