Tehran/Paris: Both the Iranian and French governments Tuesday condemned the Iranian media for calling the French first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, "immoral" and a "prostitute".
Iranian media attacked Bruni-Sarkozy after she made a plea online for the life of an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery.
"We are letting Iranian authorities know that the insults by the daily Kayhan and taken up by several Iranian internet sites against several French personalities, including Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, are unacceptable," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.
He added that the message would be passed along to authorities in Tehran by the "usual diplomatic route".
Iranian authorities also condemned the insults Tuesday, with Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast saying in his weekly press briefing: "Using insulting remarks against foreign officials is not correct and not approved by the Iranian government".
In an open letter published last week on the internet, the French first lady expressed her support for Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani, 43, saying that France would not abandon her.
The Iranian website www.inn.ir responded by calling Bruni-Sarkozy an "immoral woman" because of her background as a model and singer.
Also referring to renowned French actress Isabelle Adjani, the Tehran daily Kayhan wrote that "French prostitutes have entered the hue and cry over human rights".
But Mehmanparast said Tuesday that "even if wrong policies are adopted against us, we prefer to deal with them with logical criticism rather than using insulting terms which would fully be contrary to our ethical principles".
He called on the local media to be more careful and not to harm the Iranian administration with such remarks.
While www.inn.ir has no direct affiliation with the government, Kayhan is a state-run organ of Iran`s ultra-radical wing.
Bruni-Sarkozy followed numerous other celebrities, politicians, governments and human rights groups in calling for clemency for Mohammadi-Ashtiani.
Mohammadi-Ashtiani`s case has raised international criticism following her conviction of adultery and alleged involvement in her husband`s murder.
Her lawyer, who has since fled to Norway, and activists said she was forced into a televised "confession".
Despite the criticism from the Foreign Ministry, Kayhan Tuesday went even further in its attacks on Bruni-Sarkozy, writing that "this Italian prostitute should have the same fate as Mohammadi-Ashtiani and deserved to die".
It accused her of having "illegitimate relationships with other people (than her husband)" and leading a lifestyle similar to Mohammadi-Ashtiani.