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Iranian Cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraye Sentenced to 25 Lashes for Satirical Cartoon

Amid stories of movie box office records being broken, the latest developments in superhero civil wars and the usual comic book ephemera, here’s a news story that puts everything in perspective: Iranian cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraye has been sentenced to 25 lashes for daring to draw a caricature of a local politician that wasn’t appreciated by its subject.

Shokraye created the satirical cartoon of Ahmad Lofti Ashtiani in full soccer strip for the long-running Nameye Amir magazine in response to news stories about Ashtiani and other Iranian politicians interfering with the country’s sports. After it ran, Ashtiani was so offended by the image that he sued Shokraye, and the court ruled in his favor, handing down a sentence that pretty much defines the idea of a horrific overreaction.

The news has, unsurprisingly, drawn criticism worldwide with cartoonists protesting the news by creating their own (far less kind) caricatures of Ashtiani, with some including Shokraye’s original cartoon.Local journalist Masig Alinejad argues that the sentence demonstrates Iranian authorities’ sensitivity towards anything that could be considered criticism, pointing out that Shokraye “has drawn the MP exactly the way he is, even with his prayer mark. Actually, the MP’s cartoon looks better than the MP himself.” More seriously, Nik Kowsar, an Iranian cartoonist now living in the US, points out that this case could lead to even tighter restrictions on cartoonists’ free speech, writing that “if the ruling takes place and the judgement is not set aside, any cartoonist in Iran will have to fear at least 25 lashes on his back if he happens to insult public official.”

[Via The Daily Cartoonist]

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