Iran says it has closed a Tehran-based French institute over "sacrilegious" cartoons of its supreme leader in a French satirical magazine.

Charlie Hebdo's latest edition features caricatures mocking Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and fellow Shia Muslim clerics sent in by readers in support of the anti-government protests in Iran.

Some of them are sexually explicit. Iran's foreign ministry said shutting the French Institute for Research in Iran was its "first step" in response.

It threatened further action if France did not "hold to account the perpetrators and sponsors of such instances of spreading hatred".

Charlie Hebdo published the caricatures of Ayatollah Khamenei in a special edition marking the eight anniversary of a attack on its Paris office by militant Sunni Islamists

claiming to be avenging the magazine's decision to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed. Twelve people were killed, including five of the magazine's cartoonists.

The magazine said it had received more than 300 cartoons from readers and "thousands of threats" after launching a competition

in order to "support the struggle of the Iranians who are fighting for their freedom, by ridiculing this religious leader from a bygone age".