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Hard-line Iranian newspaper lashes out at France's first lady

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Bruni-Sarkozy should be executed for defending woman in stoning case, paper says
  • Newspaper refers to Carla Bruni-Sarkozy as a "prostitute"
  • Iranian woman has been sentenced to death by stoning for adultery
  • Iranian, French officials criticize newspaper

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- A hard-line Iranian newspaper has called the French first lady a "prostitute" and recommended she be put to death for supporting a woman sentenced to death by stoning in Iran for adultery.

Under the headline "French prostitutes enter the human rights uproar," the Kayhan daily newspaper referred Saturday to Carla Bruni-Sarkozy as a "prostitute" after she released an open letter in support of Sakineh Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two whose case has drawn international attention.

Kayhan reiterated those statements Tuesday, writing that, "considering her background of adultery and her support for this woman in Iran, she should be executed."

The newspaper's tirade was met with criticism from Iran's government. "Insulting the authorities in other countries and using inappropriate words is not approved by the Islamic Republic," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters Tuesday in response to a question during his weekly briefing, according to the ministry's website.

"The media can criticize the policies, attitudes, and comments of other countries' officials, they can object to them, we call for them to review their deeds, but we do not think applying insulting and degrading words is the right thing to do."

French Foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said on Tuesday that the comments are unacceptable. "We're making this message known through normal diplomatic channels."

In her open letter, published on Bruni's website, the former model said, "Condemned to be buried alive, and then stoned to death! Your beautiful face, reduced to a pulp! Your eyes full of sorrow and dignity, your forehead, your mind, your soul, transformed into a target for the stone throwers, exploded, pulverized, in shreds! Horror and consternation!"

She added, "Your judges must know, Sakineh, your name has become a symbol the world over. Let us hope they may understand that, no matter what the time or the place, they shall never be able to wash their hands of such a crime."

Bruni continued that she is proud to live in a country that has abolished the death penalty and said she was praying that Iran would find a way to show clemency in her case. "In France, schoolchildren learn that mercy is the greatest virtue of those who govern," she said. "In the depths of your cell, know that my husband will plead your cause unfailingly and that France will not abandon you."

CNN's Mitra Mobasherat contributed to this story.