Tehran-Iran has summoned a senior French envoy, the charge affaires, to protest Paris’ defense of the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad, the foreign ministry in Tehran said.

Forent Aydalot was summoned Monday “in protest against the French authorities’ insistence on supporting the publication of cartoons insulting the Prophet, peace be upon him,” the statement said.

The ministry said “the unacceptable behaviour of the French authorities” had “hurt the feelings of millions of Muslims in Europe and the world”. “Any insult and disrespect toward the Prophet of Islam and Islamic values are strongly condemned,” it added.

French President Emmanuel Macron has strongly defended the right to mock religion following the murder of a French school teacher who had shown his class cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday that Macron’s remarks only fueled “extremism” and that insulting all Muslims “for the abhorrent crimes of such extremists is an opportunistic abuse of freedom of speech.”

His ministry said it was “regrettable to incite Islamophobia and spread hatred in the name of freedom of expression, which should serve communication, empathy and coexistence.” 

Several Iranian newspapers attacked Macron on Tuesday, including the Javan daily which on its front page ran a picture of a smiling Macron with the headline “Evil!”

The ultraconservative Kayhan daily called for the French ambassador to be expelled “in response to Macron’s insolence”.

And the conservative Vatan-e Emrooz devoted most of its front page to a cartoon depicting Macron as a satan-like figure under the headline “The Paris Devil”.