Tuesday, May 23, 2006

More cartoon mayhem

The Iranian government has closed one of the country's top three newspapers, detaining its editor and cartoonist, for publishing a caricature that caused members of Iran's Azeri minority to riot in protest.

The cartoon, printed last Friday, provoked large disturbances in Tabriz, the capital of eastern Azerbaijan province, yesterday. Police fired tear-gas as rioters smashed windows of the local governor's office.

According to one Azeri website, "some 200 persons were arrested, over 50 severely injured and at least four persons have lost their lives" during the disturbance.

As you'd expect, the punishment for offending religious sensibilities in Iran is severe:

Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi said the paper's cartoonist and editor-in-chief had been detained.

"Those responsible, the cartoonist and the chief editor, were summoned and the charges were read to them. The two were taken to Evin prison," Mortazavi said. Culture minister Saffar Harrandi apologized for the cartoon yesterday and promised to punish the editor and cartoonist.

My assumption: the cartoonist and editor will never be seen alive again.

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