Iranian Cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraiyeh Apparently Spared the Lash
Apparent good news is slipping out of Iran. Reliable sources are telling us that cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraiyeh will not receive twenty-five lashes for drawing a very tame cartoon of Parliamentarian Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani in the Iranian journal Nameh Amir. Following a public outcry both in and out of Iran that ridiculed the sensitive politician much more pointedly than Mahmoud’s cartoon, Ashtiani withdrew his complaint against Mahmoud. The Press Court however has not dismissed the case. The judge has ordered Mahmoud Shokraiyeh to pay a fine equivalent to somewhere around $100, and has ordered Mahmoud’s publisher Abolfazl Nikahd to pay a fine equivalent to somewhere around $3,000. Below is the front page of Nameh Amir announcing the new verdict for the inoffensive offending cartoon and for the article that accompanied the cartoon.
Much of the public outcry against the cruel verdict of twenty-lashes was in large part due to an online petition by 2010 CRNI Courage Award recipient Mana Neyestani. We at CRNI believe national and international attention generated by this campaign encouraged the Iranian judicial officials to set aside the initial verdict. Mana is of course very happy and relieved that Mahmoud will not be whipped for drawing a cartoon. But Mana was quick to point out to us that, “It does not mean that Mahmoud has been recognized as innocent of the charges. The authorities will not admit that the judiciary system made a mistake.”
Ever since the verdict of twenty-five lashes was handed down, Mahmoud has not sought public attention. Cartoonists Rights Network Board Member Nik Kowsar, a self-exiled former Iranian cartoonist, says Mahmoud’s response is hardly surprising since Mahmoud is likely being monitored by the Iranian government. Mahmoud however has made it known that he is now taking an indefinite break from cartooning.
To learn more about this scandal and more about the petition, see our previous news alert titled Iran Press Court Sentences Cartoonist Mahmoud Shokraiyeh to 25 Lashes for Drawing a Caricature of a Member of Parliament.