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Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian summoned the French ambassador on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, to condemn the publication of offensive caricatures of the country's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Image Credit: AP

TEHRAN: Iran announced on Thursday the closure of a Tehran-based French research institute in protest against cartoons of the Islamic republic’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei published by French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

“In reviewing cultural relations with France and examining the possibility of continuing French cultural activities in Iran, the ministry is ending the activities of the French Institute for Research in Iran as a first step,” the Iranian foreign ministry said in a statement.

Iran’s foreign ministry also summoned the French ambassador.

The envoy, Nicolas Roche, was summoned Wednesday to hear Iran’s “strong protest” against the Paris-based publication’s “obscene actions” which were “insulting to authority, sacredness and religious and national values,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, Charlie Hebdo published the cover of its latest issue which features an open call for caricatures of Khamenei as a response to the Islamic Republic’s deadly crackdown on widespread anti-government protests.

Iran’s Foreign Minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, condemned the cartoons in a tweet, warning “we won’t allow the French government to overstep the mark.”

IFRI, affiliated to the French foreign ministry, is a historical and archeological institute founded in 1983 after the merger of the French Archaeological Delegation in Iran and the French Institute of Iranology in Tehran.

Located in the centre of Tehran, it had been closed for many years but was reopened under the 2013-2021 presidency of the moderate president Hassan Rouhani as a sign of warming bilateral relations.

No lessons to take from Iran over press, judicial freedoms - France

Meanwhile, Foreign Minster Catherine Colonna said on Thursday Iran should look at what is going on at home before criticising France.

Ties between France and Iran have deteriorated in recent months as efforts to revive nuclear talks, to which France is one of the parties, have stalled and Tehran has detained seven of its nationals.

Speaking to LCI TV, Colonna said it was Iran that was pursuing bad policies through its violence against its population and detention of French nationals.

“Let’s remember that in France press freedom exists contrary to what’s happening in Iran and that this (freedom) is overseen by a judge within the framework of an independent judiciary, which is something that Iran without doubt doesn’t know well,” she said, adding that there were no blasphemy laws in France.

Facing their worst legitimacy crisis since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran’s religious leaders have accused its foreign foes of orchestrating the anti-government mass protests to destabilise the country.