A magazine in France has published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad naked, less than a week after Muslims around the world protested a film depicting the Prophet as a womaniser.
Having urged the magazine not to publish the pictures, the French government announced that it would temporarily close embassies and schools in 20 twenty countries around the world on Friday, to preempt the possibility of renewed unrest after Muslim prayers, the foreign ministry said.
Riot police were deployed to protect the Parisian offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo after it was published featuring a cover that depicts an orthodox Jew pushing Muhammad in a wheelchair. The magazine features a number of pictures inside in which the Prophet appears naked.
France’s prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said: “In the current climate, the prime minister wishes to stress his disapproval of all excesses and calls on everyone to behave responsibly.”
In an interview with RTL radio, he said: “We are in a country where the freedom of expression is guaranteed, along with the freedom to caricature. If people really feel their beliefs are offended and think the law has been broken – and we are in a state where the law must be totally respected — they can go to the courts.”
However, the Guardian reported that Charlie Hebdo’s editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, was “unrepentant”. He said the latest caricatures would shock “only those who will want to be shocked”.
In 2005 Muslims protested around the world after a Danish newpaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons depicting Muhammed. 100 people died in the violence and the Danish embassies in Pakistan, Syria, Lebanon and Iran were attacked.