part of Shokraye’s sketch of Lotfi Ashtiani

Amnesty International has condemned the sentencing of Iranian cartoonist Mohammad Shokraye to 25 lashes for drawing a former MP, calling it the Iranian government’s latest attack on free speech.

“Mahmoud Shokraye’s brutal sentence, just for drawing a harmless cartoon, sends a chilling message to all Iranians that they cannot freely and peacefully express their views without the fear of facing harsh reprisals from the Iranian authorities,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director for Amnesty International.

"This is yet one more example of the Iranian authorities’ relentless attack on freedom of expression. Flogging is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment for any crime, and as such is prohibited under international law,” Harrison said. “The Iranian authorities should be working to remove it as a punishment in law instead of sentencing ever more people to lashes.”

Shokraye was sentenced to 25 lashes for his drawing of Ahmad Lotfi Ashtiani, a former MP in his city of Arak.

The sketch, which depicts Lotfi Ashtiani as a soccer player, was published in the “Amir” publication in Central Province.

Iranian cartoonists inside and outside Iran, as well as their international peers, have formed a widespread campaign to condemn Shokraye’s sentence.