News Agencies – September 19, 2012
The French government stepped up security at its embassies across the Muslim world after a French satirical weekly published vulgar caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, inflaming global tensions over a movie insulting to Islam.
The move by the provocative weekly Charlie Hebdo followed days of violent protests from Asia to Africa against the U.S.-produced film Innocence of Muslims and turned France into a potential target of Muslim rage. Up to now, American government sites have drawn the most ire.
The French government ordered embassies and schools abroad to close on Friday, the Muslim holy day, as a precautionary measure in about 20 countries, according to the foreign affairs ministry. It ordered the immediate closure of the French Embassy and the French school in Tunisia, which saw deadly film-related protests at the U.S. Embassy last Friday.
The principle of freedom of expression “must not be infringed,” Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said, speaking on France Inter radio. But he added: “Is it pertinent, intelligent, in this context to pour oil on the fire? The answer is no.”
“This is a disgraceful and hateful, useless and stupid provocation,” said Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Grand Paris Mosque. “We are not Pavlov’s animals to react at each insult.”