France on alert after Mohammed cartoons published
France will close embassies and schools in 20 countries tomorrow over fears of violence after a weekly satirical magazine published cartoons of a naked Prophet Mohammed.
The cartoons in 'Charlie Hebdo' provoked angry condemnation in the Muslim world, where violence over a crudely made anti-Islam film has resulted in dozens of deaths in recent days.
The French government said it would close many embassies, consulates, cultural centres and international schools, which could be targeted in demonstrations.
Riot police yesterday took up positions outside the Paris offices of 'Charlie Hebdo'. Its former headquarters was firebombed last November after an issue called 'Sharia Hebdo' featured Mohammed as "guest editor". The real editor has been under police protection ever since. The magazine's website was down yesterday. Staff said it had been hacked.
A Pakistan-based group calling itself the Guardian of Honour of the Prophet, claimed responsibility.
The magazine's current issue carries numerous cartoons mocking Salafists and the film 'Innocence of Muslims', which triggered worldwide protests since its online release. But Muslim anger was directed against four cartoons clearly depicting Mohammed.
Jean-Marc Ayrault, the prime minister, said anyone offended by the cartoons could sue the magazine, after expressing his "disapproval of all excesses".
But Francois Fillon, the right-wing former prime minister, said: "I defend 'Charlie Hebdo', I defend the freedom of expression and I think we mustn't give an inch of ground on this front". (© Daily Telegraph, London)