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Kioumars Saberi, 63, Iranian political satirist

TEHRAN -- Kioumars Saberi, Iran's best-known satirical columnist and cartoonist, died Friday, according to a friend, Giti Safarzadeh. He was 63.

Known as "Gol Agha" in Persian, or Mr. Flower, Mr. Saberi was the first to satirize the leadership of Iran's clerical establishment after the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

His humor was groundbreaking; even minor criticism of the ruling clerics was forbidden during the 1980s and '90s.

His main outlet was the daily newspaper Ettela'at, for which he wrote a page-two column that thousands of readers chuckled over. About five years ago he stopped writing for Ettela'at and focused on his own magazine, Gol Agha, which was mainlycartoons.

Trained as a teacher of literature, Mr. Saberi worked in the central government for a few years after the revolution. He served as a cultural adviser to President Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is now the country's supreme leader.

Mr. Saberi left the post in the mid-1980s to devote himself to satire.

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