Tehran warns of "effective and decisive response" after notorious French magazine publishes dozens of caricatures including variety of sexual images depicting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and fellow clerics.

Khamenei, the successor of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, is appointed for life.
Khamenei, the successor of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, is appointed for life. (Reuters)

Iran has warned France of consequences after the notorious magazine Charlie Hebdo published caricatures depicting supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei that Tehran deemed to be insulting.

"The insulting and indecent act of a French publication in publishing cartoons against the religious and political authority will not go without an effective and decisive response," tweeted Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Wednesday.

"We will not allow the French government to go beyond its bounds. They have definitely chosen the wrong path," he added, without spelling out the consequences.

Iran's Foreign Ministry said it had summoned French ambassador Nicolas Roche.

"France has no right to insult the sanctities of other Muslim countries and nations under the pretext of freedom of expression," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanani said.

"Iran is waiting for the French government's explanation and compensatory action in condemning the unacceptable behaviour of the French publication," he added.

The weekly had published dozens of caricatures ridiculing the highest religious and political figure in the Islamic republic as part of a competition it launched in December.

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The issue contained a variety of sexual images depicting Khamenei and fellow clerics.

Other caricatures pointed to the authorities' use of capital punishment as a tactic to quell the protests.

"It was a way to show our support for Iranian men and women who risk their lives to defend their freedom against the theocracy that has oppressed them since 1979," Charlie Hebdo's Director Laurent Sourisseau, known as Riss, wrote in an editorial.

All the caricatures published "have the merit of defying the authority that the supposed supreme leader claims to be, as well as the cohort of his servants and other henchmen," he added.

Nathalie Loiseau, a French MEP and former minister loyal to President Emmanuel Macron, described Iran's response as an "interference attempt and threat" to Charlie Hebdo.

"Let it be perfectly clear: the repressive and theocratic regime in Tehran has nothing to teach France," she said.

In Washington, State Department spokesperson Ned Price, asked about the row, told reporters that the United States stood "on the side of freedom of expression" whether "that's in France, whether that's in Iran, whether that's anywhere in between".

Charlie Hebdo has previously published insulting caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, sparking backlash from the Muslim world. 

Depictions of prophets are strictly avoided in Islam. 

Objections to the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad include the complaint that they were produced with the deliberate intention of mocking the Muslim community as a whole. 

The caricatures were seen alongside the context of the French state's terse relationship with Muslims, after successive governments introduced laws targeting Muslims and their religious practices. 

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies