Iran: The cardboard ayatollah and the inflatable Air France jet

Khomeini's likeness in front of a painted backdrop of an Air France jet A nearly-lifesize likeness of Ayatollah Khomeini "arrives" in the Iranian city of Yasuj

Cardboard cut-outs of Ayatollah Khomeini getting off inflatable planes are being used in Iran to mark 35 years since his return from exile in France.

The blow-up planes add a new twist to a display that has become something of a recurring phenomenon in recent years.

The festivities went ahead despite warnings from one news agency that the annual event would lead to mockery abroad.

The Khordad news agency, known to be supportive of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, criticised the organisers, saying they would "provide publicity for external and opposition media and hurt the lovers of the revolution".

Nevertheless, in several Iranian cities, likenesses of the country's former leader were brought down the steps of mocked-up Air France aircrafts to mark the events that led to the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

A cardboard cut-out of the Ayatollah is posed on the steps of an inflatable aircraft In Mashad, in north-east Iran, a cardboard cut-out was brought down the steps of an inflatable aircraft

Photographs carried by the Mehr news agency showed military and police officers saluting the image of the ayatollah in front of a flag-waving crowd.

But Facebook users on the Persian-language Mamlekate Darim page (What a country we have) were among those astonished by the ceremonies.

One user, noting there was no sign of the cardboard cut-outs last year, said people were "worried that the Imam might have been left folded up in a basement".

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