Iran Demands Apology for German Soccer Cartoon

Embassy in Berlin threatens legal action if apology not issued for cartoon of Iranian soccer players dressed as suicide bombers.

The Iranian embassy in Germany has demanded a written apology from a Berlin newspaper that printed a cartoon of Iranian soccer players dressed as suicide bombers and threatened legal action if none is forthcoming.

The sketch, published on Friday by Der Tagesspiegel, shows four moustachioed soccer players wearing Iran shirts with explosives strapped to their chests next to four German soldiers in a soccer stadium.

A caption above read: "Why the German army should definitely be used during the soccer World Cup!", referring to a debate in Germany about whether to use troops to help with security during the month-long tournament which begins June 9.

Stephan-Andreas Casdorff, the daily's managing editor, said on Monday he regretted the reaction to the drawing but did not consider an apology necessary.

The cartoon's artist had received three death threats and had been forced to leave his apartment, he said, adding that the police was investigating the threats.

In a letter to Der Tagesspiegel seen by Reuters on Monday, the Iranian embassy in Berlin said the cartoon was offensive and accused the paper of using sport to make a political point in an "irresponsible and immoral way."