The commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has said that Muslims will “sooner or later” take revenge against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for publishing cartoons of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei deemed “insulting” by the Islamic Republic.
"You have made a big mistake, and Muslims will take revenge sooner or later, so no one can dare to insult Muslims anywhere in the world," Major General Hossein Salami said on January 10.
In last week’s issue, the controversial French weekly published cartoons mocking Khamenei, who has held power in Iran for more than 30 years, as part of a competition launched in support of anti-government protesters who have taken to the streets across the country for nearly four months.
One cartoon depicted a turbaned cleric reaching for a hangman’s noose as he drowns in blood, while another showed Khamenei clinging to a giant throne above the raised fists of protesters.
Other entries depict sexually explicit scenes that included the supreme leader and other Iranian clerics.
Salami on January 10 mentioned an August 2022 attack in which novelist Salman Rushdie was seriously injured, and warned that Charlie Hebdo’s staff may be subject to similar acts.
Rushdie, a prominent Indian-born, British-American author, lost sight in one eye and the use of one hand in the stabbing attack in the US state of New York. The author of the novel The Satanic Verses, which some Muslims consider blasphemous, spent years in hiding after Ruhollah Khomeini, the founding father of the Islamic republic, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, against him in 1989.
“You may arrest the avengers, but the dead will not come back to life," the IRGC commander said.
Meanwhile, Charlie Hebdo editors reported that the magazine was hit by a cyberattack.
The weekly has a history of pushing the limits of free speech on race, religion, and politics in France, home to Europe's largest Muslim community.
It has been the target of other attacks over the years. In 2015, 12 people were killed by Islamist militants in an attack at the magazine's Paris office over the publication of cartoons of Islam’s prophet.
The Islamic Republic has summoned France's ambassador to Iran to protest the "insulting" cartoons depicting Khamenei and announced it was closing a French research institute in Tehran.
In a statement, the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah called on the French government to “take decisive measures to punish those behind the act for attacking dignitaries of a whole nation.”