France to close embassies Friday over cartoons
PARIS - Agence France-Presse
French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo's publisher clenches his fist as he presents to journalists the last issue which features on the front cover a satirical drawing titled 'Intouchables 2.' AFP photoFrance will close its embassies and schools in around 20 countries Friday because of fears of a hostile reaction to a magazine's publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius earlier announced that he had ordered special security measures "in all the countries where this could pose a problem." Demonstrations in the Islamic world often follow Friday prayers.
Fabius admitted that he was "concerned" by the potential for a backlash to satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo's printing of a series of cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed against a background of violent protests in the Muslim world over an anti-Islam film.
The crudely-made US film is the main target of Charlie Hebdo's cartoons but they are open to easy misinterpretation and it seemed inevitable that the finer points of the magazine's satire would be lost in translation as the images circulate around the world.
The weekly carries a total of four cartoons, two them showing the Prophet naked.
French minister says free speech basic right
France's interior minister said today after a French weekly published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that freedom of speech, including caricature, was a "fundamental right" backed by the law.
Manuel Valls made the statement after meeting with French Muslim leaders angered by the cartoons, some of which depict the Prophet Mohammed in the nude. He also said he would tolerate no protests that disturbed public order.