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Lashing Sentence For Iranian Cartoonist Condemned

Source: RFE/RL

An unprecedented lashing sentence against Iranian cartoonist Mahmud Shokraye has been condemned by Iranian news sites and cartoonists. Shokraye was earlier this week sentenced to 25 lashes over his depiction of conservative lawmaker Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani as a soccer player.

Mahmud Shokraye was sentenced to 25 lashes for portraying
a conservative politician as a soccer player.

The cartoon was deemed insulting by the lawmaker who is among politicians criticized for interfering in sports.

In a joint statement, a dozen Iran-based new websites condemned Shokraye's sentence and warned that it sets a dangerous precedent.

The statement noted that drawing cartoons of politicians, including of Iranian presidents and other top officials, is common in Iran.

A number of Iranian cartoonists have also protested against the sentence by drawing new cartoons of Ashtiani.

Nikahang Kowsar's cartoon of Ashtiani in support of Mahmud Shokraye

Nikahang Kowsar, a prominent Iranian cartoonist who fell foul of the Iranian regime after famously caricaturing a prominent cleric like a crocodile in a series of cartoons, said: "This verdict is a direct threat to each and every cartoonist working inside Iran. From now on, if this sentence is not set aside, any public official could sue the cartoonists for portraying him/her in a cartoon." Kowsar, a member of the board of Cartoonists Rights Network International, has also participated in the campaign of drawing Ashtiani's cartoon.

Related Story by Guardian:Iranian cartoonist sentenced to 25 lashes for drawing MP

Speaking to RFE/RL's Radio Farda, Paris-based cartoonist Mana Neyestani, who initiated the online cartoon protest, said the sentence was alarming.

With reporting by Baztab

Copyright (c) 2012 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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