Strange but true.
An Iranian cartoonist has been sentenced to 25 lashes for a caricature of a local MP, the semi-official Ilna news agency has reported.
Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani, MP for Arak, took offence to a cartoon published in Nameye Amir, a city newspaper in Arak.
What can one say? When one is familiar with the principle that the people are allowed to criticize people such as employers and monarchs and MPs, what can one say about a cartoonist being sentenced to whipping for a mild cartoon like the above?
Shokraye was subsequently sued by the MP for having insulted him. A court in Markazi province, of which Arak is the capital, sentenced the cartoonist to 25 lashes – an unprecedented punishment for an Iranian cartoonist.
His sentence has triggered outcry among Iran’s online community with many calling on cartoonists to draw new caricatures of the MP. Many have expressed their anger on Twitter and Facebook.
Speaking to the Guardian, 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.”
You know what to do. If you have any cartooning talent, get out there and put it to good use.