This Cartoonist Was Jailed For Showing Solidarity With France

Three days after the brutal attacks on Paris saw dozens killed and wounded, an Iranian journalist has been jailed for showing solidarity. Press cartoonist Hadi Heidari was taken into custody by agents appearing to be members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an Iranian intelligence unit, according to The New York Times. The agents arrested Heidari while he worked at The Shahvrand, a daily Tehranian publication owned by the Red Crescent Society, the Iranian equivalent of the Red Cross. Heidari’s arrest comes in the wake of a publication of a cartoon depicting a man weeping in empathy with the French people. The New York Times reports that although even the most conservative of Iranians condemn the attacks and ISIS generally, “they are wary of any perceived expression of friendly overtures to secular Western countries, which they might have thought the cartoon conveyed.”
Heidari has been in hot water with the law before. He was detained for multiple weeks in 2009 for joining a religious ceremony calling for the release of political prisoners in the wake of a tumultuous presidential election. Again, in 2012, he found himself questioned about a cartoon that some Iranian conservatives perceived as disloyal or mocking to Iranian soldiers; it shows a line of men marching, blindfolded. This is not the first recent news story springing out of Instagram, as an actress had to flee earlier this month for showing uncovered hair on the popular social media site. Iranians are under the thumb of a regime that we in the west could characterize as oppressive, but find ways to make small protests or shows of solidarity. Heidari joins two poets as recent literary criminals under the new crackdown following the July nuclear agreement.

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