newspaper called French first lady Carla Bruni a prostitute for her criticism of the Iranian plan to stone a woman to death. The French Foreign Ministry denounced the insults by Iranian newspaper Kayhan, which also called for Bruni's death, in a statement released Tuesday.
"We are letting the Iranian authorities know that the insults put out by the daily newspaper Kayhan and taken up by Iranian Web sites regarding several French personalities, including Mrs. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, were unacceptable," the statement said.
The wife of French President Nicolas Sarkozy drew the ire of Kayhan, a staunchly conservative newspaper, after releasing an open letter in support of Sakineh Ashtiani, 43, whom Iranian authorities have sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.
The case has sparked international protests, with leaders across Europe pleading with Tehran to refrain from executing the sentence. Tehran has since claimed she was an accomplice to the death of her husband but her government-appointed lawyer denied this, saying Tehran invented the charges against her. Ashtiani has had to endure a mock execution and frequent psychological abuse during the past weeks in jail, her lawyer and family have claimed.
Bruni with her letter directly appealed for the woman's release.
"Why shed your blood and deprive your children of their mother?" Bruni wrote in the letter published on her Web site. "Because you have lived, because you have loved, because you're a woman, and because you're an Iranian? Everything within me refuses to accept it."
She added, "In the depths of your cell, know that my husband will plead your cause unfailingly and that France will not abandon you."
In response to the public appeal, Kayhan on Saturday wrote it was but a group of prostitutes who are supporting the convicted woman. After Bruni and France had protested, Kayhan Tuesday wrote that the French first lady would only support Ashtiani due to Bruni's "illegitimate relationships with different people before and after marrying" the French president. "Reviewing Carla Bruni's records clearly shows why this immoral woman has supported an Iranian woman who has committed adultery, has contributed to the murdering of her husband and has been sentenced to death, and in fact she herself deserves death."
Tehran on Tuesday condemned the newspaper's language. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters that the use of "inappropriate words is not approved by the Islamic Republic," Iranian news agency ILNA reports. He added that newspapers could criticize but should refrain from insulting foreign dignitaries.
However, the damage seems to be done, with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner as a result reportedly having urged the European Union to think about additional sanctions to stop Iran from violating human rights.