France said on Tuesday that insults in the Iranian media against first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who has been branded an “Italian prostitute” who “deserves death”, are unacceptable.
“The insults in the daily Kayhan and picked up by Iranian websites against several French figures, including Mrs Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, are unacceptable,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Bernard Valero said.
“We’re making this message known through normal diplomatic channels.”
The Iranian press reacted with fury last week after Bruni-Sarkozy, the wife of France President Nicolas Sarkozy, made a public statement in support of an Iranian woman who has been sentenced to be stoned to death.
She and other French personalities signed a petition calling for Tehran to release 43-year-old mother-of-two Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, whom an Iranian court has convicted of adultery and complicity in her husband’s murder.
The case has triggered an international outcry, and the French government — already at loggerheads with Iran’s Islamic regime over its alleged nuclear arms programme — has made a formal protest and threatened sanctions.
But it was Bruni-Sarkozy’s intervention that caused the biggest stir in Tehran, with the conservative Iranian press lashing out at the 41-year-old supermodel-turned-singer’s formerly colourful private life.
“Reviewing Carla Bruni’s record 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,” the Kayhan newspaper wrote.
“In fact, she herself deserves death,” the paper added, labelling the French first lady an “Italian prostitute”.
Earlier this year, Sarkozy and Bruni-Sarkozy were forced to deny unsourced internet rumours that they had both had affairs. Prior to her marriage to the president, Bruni-Sarkozy made no secret of not being monogamous.
While this has caused few waves in France, where public figures are seen as being entitled to keep their private lives private and extramarital sex is not taboo, it has been seen as a mark against her in conservative Iran.
Nevertheless, on Tuesday the Iranian Foreign Ministry warned its national media to refrain from personal attacks on foreign dignitaries. — AFP