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Iran's Khamenei says Mohammed cartoons 'unforgivable'

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Tehran (AFP)

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Tuesday that cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that were republished by a French satirical magazine last week were "unforgivable".

"The grave and unforgivable sin committed by a French weekly in insulting the luminous and holy personality of (the) Prophet revealed, once more, the hostility and malicious grudge harboured by political and cultural organisations in the West against Islam and the Muslim community," Khamenei said in an English-language statement.

"The excuse of ‘freedom of expression’ made by some French politicians in order not to condemn this grave crime of insulting the Holy Prophet of Islam is completely unacceptable, wrong and demagogic."

During a visit to Beirut last week, French President Emmanuel Macron said Charlie Hebdo had broken no law in republishing the cartoons to mark the September 2 opening of the trial into a deadly 2015 attack on its offices by Islamist extremists.

"There is... in France a freedom to blaspheme that is linked to freedom of conscience," Macron said.

"It is my job to protect all these freedoms."

Twelve people, including some of France's most celebrated cartoonists, were killed on January 7, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi went on a gun rampage at the magazine's Paris offices.

The perpetrators were killed in the aftermath of the massacre but 14 alleged accomplices in the attacks, which also targeted a Jewish supermarket, went on trial.

Despite its outrage at the cartoons, Iran condemned the attack on the paper's offices.

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