Shokraye drew the caricature of the parliamentarian in ‘Nameye Amir’, a city newspaper in Arak, the capital of Iran’s central province of Markazi.
In the cartoon, Ashtiani is depicted in a football stadium, dressed as a footballer, with a congratulatory letter in one hand and his foot resting on the ball.
The Ilna semi-official news agency reported that a media law court in Markazi had found Shokraye guilty of insulting the MP, handing down the unprecedented punishment.
Shokraye drew Ashtiani following widespread criticism in Iranian society towards a number of politicians who have been accused of interfering in the country’s sports.
An unprecedented lashing sentence against Iranian cartoonist Mahmud Shokraye has been condemned by Iranian news sites and cartoonists. Iran’s online community has expressed anger on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. Besides, some cartoonists called on their colleagues to draw new caricatures of the MP in condemnation of the court’s decision.
According to Guardian, it is the first time a lashing sentence has been handed down over a cartoon in Iran, although many have fallen victim to the state’s aggression towards cartoonists.
In an earlier joint statement, a dozen Iran-based websites condemned Shokraye’s sentence and warned that it sets a dangerous precedent.
The statement noted that drawing cartoons of politicians, including of Iranian presidents and other top officials, is common in Iran.
For example, the lampooning of the clerical classes is generally not acceptable, but cartoons of former reformist President Mohammad Khatami, himself a man of the cloth, go unpunished. Current President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not immune either, BBC noted.
On the other side, Radio Free Europe reported Britain has added its condemnation to the unprecedented lashing sentence against Iranian cartoonist Mahmud Shokraye.
Also, Amnesty International said Iran’s reported conviction of a cartoonist to 25 lashes for a caricature of a former lawmaker is the Islamic republic’s latest attack on freedom of expression.