While Tehran continues to vehemently insist that the death sentence fatwa by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini against writer Salman Rushdie for insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad be carried out, it at the same time condemned the January 7, 2015 massacre at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly in Paris, and added that the European countries and the U.S. were also responsible for it.
The Iranian leadership's pragmatic and ideological camps are united in their fury over Charlie Hebdo's publication of cartoons insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, and over the French leadership's support for the magazine's publication of them. They both claim that it is an abuse of freedom of speech.
On January 7, 2014, the Iranian news agency Fars, which is affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), published a response to Rushdie's condemnation of the Paris attack, reminding its readers that the death sentence against Rushdie remains in force. It called Rushdie's support for the weekly that insulted the Prophet a "repeat offense against the divine religions," and stated that "Rushdie, a British citizen of Indian origin, has lived in hiding and under strict security precautions since it was decreed that his blood is permitted because of the death sentence against him for his insulting book The Satanic Verses."
However, in contrast to the ideological camp, which stressed rage over Charlie Hebdo's insult to Islam and Muslims, the pragmatic camp, headed by Expediency Council Chairman Hashemi Rafsanjani, also urged Europe and the U.S. to promote engagement with "the moderate Iran," because the West and Iran were on the same side in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). It also expressed concern that the attack could set off a wave of Islamophobia across Europe.
It should be noted that on January 8, 2015, Radio Free Europe reported that the Iranian regime's security forces had prevented journalists from demonstrating that day in Tehran in solidarity with their slain colleagues at Charlie Hebdo.
Below are a number of reactions in Iran to the Charlie Hebdo massacre:
Iranian President Rohani: We Condemn Global Terror - But Also "All Those Who Support Terrorism And Violence... In Europe [or] America"
In a January 9, 2015 address, Iranian President Hassan Rohani condemned the Charlie Hebdo attack, comparing it to other terror operations in the Middle East and also to activity by the supporters of terrorism in the Middle East - according to him, Europe and the U.S.: "We condemn extremism, violence, and terrorism, whether in Palestine, Lebanon, Sham [Syria], Iraq, Paris, America, or anywhere. All those who support terrorism and violence, whether in the region, in Europe, [or] in America, we consider despicable. We are glad that the Muslim people in the region - from Iraq, Sham, Lebanon, and Palestine to Afghanistan and Pakistan - is standing fast against violence, extremism, and terrorism, and wins new victories every day."
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman: We Condemn The Attack - But Also The Abuse Of Freedom Of Expression To Insult Islam
On January 7, 2015, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham condemned the "terrorist operation against innocent people" but criticized Charlie Hebdo's publication of the cartoons, calling it "an abuse of freedom of expression, intellectual extremism, and character assassination of illustrious individuals of the religions and the nations. Insulting the divine religions and their distinguished values and symbols is despicable and unacceptable... Such actions are a continuation of the wave of extremism and unprecedented physical and intellectual violence that has spread across the world in the past decade - and which unfortunately is common due to [the West's] wrongheaded policy and hypocritical conduct in the conflict against violence and extremism."
IRGC Weekly: Charlie Hebdo Was Properly Punished
It was reported by Asr-e Iran on January 14, 2014 that the Ya Letharat weekly, the official organ of the Ansar Hizbullah group which is identified with the IRGC, welcomed the attack on the front page of its January 14 issue, calling it a "blessed event," and stating that those who denigrated the Prophet Muhammad had been punished as they deserved.
Iranian Daily Shargh: The West Must Respect Islam And The Muslims - And Collaborate With "Moderate Iran"
On January 8, 2015, the Iranian daily Shargh, affiliated with the pragmatic camp, warned that there could be a similar attack in the U.S., and argued that Tehran, the European states, and the entire free world were all on the same side against the Islamic State (ISIS) and that therefore they must all work together. It also criticized French President Fran├ºois Hollande's support for freedom of expression when Charlie Hebdo had insulted Islam and the Muslims:
"The EU and America must hasten to reassess their policy in the Middle East and towards the Islamic world, in order to bar the path to similar incidents. It is unacceptable that the French president again spoke in favor of freedom of expression immediately [following the attack]. This weekly had already published an image insulting the Prophet of Islam, sparking numerous responses... The possibility that this weekly is affiliated with the Zionist lobby raises concerns that several such actions [of insulting the Prophet] will provide the terrorist extremists with the pretext they need to carry out [further] terrible actions of this sort in the name of defending Islam.
"A reassessment of relations with moderate Muslim states like Iran... can aid mutual understanding [and promote] the removal of the violent atmosphere. Reactions such as 'We will kill' and 'We will avenge' are definitely not going to solve the problem...
"Respect for Islam and for all the monotheistic faiths... will reduce the atmosphere of fear and dread."
Iranian Website: Why Didn't The French Government Use Its Authority To Prevent Charlie Hebdo's Provocations?
On January 10, 2015, Rajanews.com, which is affiliated with the circles of ultra-conservative Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, criticized the French policy of freedom of expression and blamed it for the attack. The website stated that France had done nothing to prevent Charlie Hebdo from publishing the cartoons, as part of its pro-Zionist policy under which it banned a satirical show by controversial antisemitic comedian Dieudonn├® M'Bala M'Bala criticizing Zionist expansion in France, and also banned a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Paris during the summer 2014 Gaza war.
The website stated: "The French government must provide answers as to why it did not see fit to use its legal prerogative to prevent Charlie Hebdo's provocative actions, given the sensitivity of the matter, the numerous social tensions linked to the 5-6 million strong Muslim minority in France, the violent past, the bloody demonstrations following the publication of similar insulting cartoons, the international atmosphere, and the many threats against the weekly. Why was the principle of national security and the preservation of public order evoked in the banning of a satirical performance [by Dieudonn├®] and massive anti-war demonstrations - but not in order to warn the weekly against continuing unnecessary activity that had previously sparked numerous disruptions in national, and even international, order and security? This is a key question that the French government must answer."
Iranian Daily Ebtekar: "How Appropriate Is It To Publish Images That Ridicule The Faiths Of The World?"; "Islamophobia Will Again Rise In The Cities Of Europe"
The daily Ebtekar, which is identified with Rafsanjani supporters, wrote: "The terror attack against the weekly in France clearly demonstrates that terror has penetrated the heart of Europe, and that democracy is under threat. Aside from condemning this crime, the issue of free expression arises: How appropriate is it to publish images that ridicule the faiths of the world's nations?"
The paper also expressed apprehension that "a wave of Islamophobia will again rise in the cities of Europe... Many of the world's countries that do not have extensive reciprocal diplomatic and political relations are partners in the struggle against the increasing disasters caused by this group [ISIS]."
Iran Daily Newspaper: The Weekly "Had Already Brought Muslim Anger To A Boil... When It Published Cartoons Insulting Islam's Prophet"
The daily Iran, which is identified with Rohani government circles, stated on January 8, 2015 that this was not the first time that Charlie Hebdo had made headlines: "It had already brought Muslim anger to a boil throughout the world when it published cartoons insulting to Islam's Prophet in 2006, 2011, and 2012."
 Fars (Iran), January 7, 2015.
 Rfel.org, January 8, 2015.
 Website of the Presidency of the Islamic Republic of Iran, President.ir, January 9, 2015.
 Iribnews.ir, January 7, 2015.
 Shargh (Iran), January 8, 2015.
 On Dieudonn├® , see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1055, "French Comedian Dieudonn├® Promotes New Humor-Based Antisemitic Subculture," January 16, 2014, and numerous other MEMRI reports.
 Rajanews.com (Iran), January 10, 2015.
 Ebtekar (Iran), January 8, 2015.
 Iran (Iran), January 8, 2015.