Charlie Hebdo: Riot police protect offices of French satirical magazine over cartoons of prophet Mohammad
- France steps up embassy security after Parisian weekly prints crude caricatures of prophet
- Images make reference to riots sparked by U.S.-made film mocking Islam
- French government defends magazine's decision and says it will block further protests over movie
- Cartoons threaten repeat of violence four years ago when Danish newspapers printed image of Mohammad with bomb in his turban
By Daily Mail Reporter
PUBLISHED: 06:51 EST, 19 September 2012 | UPDATED: 07:01 EST, 19 September 2012
France stepped up security at some of its embassies today after a satirical Parisian weekly published crude caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
Riot police also took up positions outside the offices of magazine Charlie Hebdo which printed the cartoons in reference to the U.S.-made anti-Islam film which has sparked violence around the world.
The images threaten a repeat of the protests seen four years ago when Danish newspapers reprinted a cartoon of Mohammad with a bomb in his turban. The original image had also triggered riots in the Muslim world when it was published in September 2005.
Waiting for the storm: Riot police stand guard outside the offices of Parisian weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo after it published crude caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad
Tensions running high: The cartoons in the satirical publication made reference to the U.S.-made anti-Islam film which has sparked violence around the world
As France plunged into a fierce debate about free speech, the government defended Charlie Hebdo's right to publish the drawings and said it would also block a protest planned by people angry over the anti-Islam movie The Innocence Of Muslims.
The amateurish film, which portrays the prophet as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester, has set off violence in seven countries that has killed at least 28 people, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
Government authorities and Muslim leaders urged calm in France, which has western Europe's largest Muslim population.
CFCM, an umbrella group for French Muslims, issued a statement expressing 'deep concern' over the caricatures and warning that 'in a very tense context, it risks exacerbating tensions and provoking reactions.'
On the defence: Charlie Hebdo's publisher (left), known only as Charb, said the images would 'shock those who will want to be shocked'. Pictured right is a previous edition of the satirical publication
Courting controversy: The small-circulation weekly often draws attention for ridiculing sensitivity around the Prophet Muhammad
Targeted: The offices of Charlie Hebdo were firebombed last year after it released an edition that mocked radical Islam
It urged French Muslims to 'not cede to provocation and ... express their indignation in peace via legal means.'
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said organisers of a demonstration planned for Saturday against The Innocence Of Muslims film won't receive police authorisation.
'There's no reason for us to let a conflict that doesn't concern France come into our country,' Ayrault told French radio RTL.
Paris prosecutors have opened an investigation into an unauthorised protest last Saturday around the U.S. Embassy that drew about 150 people and led to scores of arrests.
The tensions surrounding the film are provoking debate in France about the limits of free speech.
The magazine's editor, originally a cartoonist who uses the name Charb, said the images would 'shock those who will want to be shocked'.
freedom of the press, is that a provocation?' he said. 'I'm not asking
strict Muslims to read Charlie Hebdo, just like I wouldn't go to a
mosque to listen to speeches that go against everything I believe.'
Unhappy: Paris Mosque rector Dalil Boubakeur (right) and Ahmed Jaballah, president of the Union of French Islamic Organisations, attend a news conference about Charlie Hebdo's cartoons
Robust stance: French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (left) said he plans to block a protest planned for Saturday over the U.S.-made anti-Islam film, while Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (right) said the right to free speech 'must not be infringed'
The small-circulation weekly Charlie Hebdo often draws attention for ridiculing sensitivity around the Prophet Muhammad and an investigation into the firebombing of its offices after it released an edition that mocked radical Islam last year is still open.
The magazine's website was down Wednesday for reasons that were unclear.
One of the cartoonists, who goes by the name of Tignous, defended the drawings in an interview Wednesday at the weekly's offices on the northeast edge of Paris amid a cluster of housing projects.
'It's just a drawing,' he said. 'It's not a provocation'.
prime minister said freedom of expression is guaranteed in France, but
cautioned that it 'should be exercised with responsibility and respect.'
Anger: Protesters in Pakistan torch a US flag during a demonstration against the anti-Islam film The Innocence of Islam in the city of Lahore
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, speaking on France Inter radio, said the principle of freedom of expression 'must not be infringed.'
But he added: 'Is it pertinent, intelligent, in this context to pour oil on the fire? The answer is no.'
He said he had 'sent instructions to all countries where this could pose problems. We are taking specific security measures.'
On the streets of Paris, public reaction was mixed.
'I'm not shocked at all. If this shocks people, well too bad for them,' said Sylvain Marseguerra, a 21-year-old student at the Sorbonne. 'We are free to say what we want. We are a country in which freedom prevails and ... if this doesn't enchant some people, well too bad for them.'
Khairreddene Chabbara disagreed. 'We are for freedom of expression, but when it comes to religion it shouldn't hurt the feelings of believers.'
Fury of the mob: Hundreds of protesters - some
of them very young - targeted American base Camp Phoenix in Kabul
shouting 'Death to America' as the Muslim riots spread earlier this week
Muslim protests spread across the world in 2008 after Danish newspapers reprinted a cartoon of Mohammed that had sparked riots two years previously.
In the several Pakistani cities, students burnt Danish flags and demanded the ambassador's expulsion after the Prophet was pictured with a bomb in his turban.
While in Gaza thousands of supporters of the Islamist group Hamas demanded that an official apology be made to Muslims.
Danish newspapers said they reprinted a cartoon showing the Prophet with a bomb in his turban in protest over a plot to murder the cartoonist.
The original drawing published in September 2005 sparked criticism and riots in the Muslim world because it is forbidden to depict the Prophet.
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