France bans protests over Muhammad cartoons

French police on high alert after satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo puts out new print run of the cartoons.

September 21, 2012 15:32
2 minute read.

FRENCH CARTOONIST Charb 370. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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PARIS - France confirmed on Friday it would allow no street protests against cartoons denigrating Islam's Prophet Muhammad that were published by a French magazine this week.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls said prefects throughout the country had orders to prohibit any protest over the issue and crack down if the ban was challenged.

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"There will be strictly no exceptions. Demonstrations will be banned and broken up," he said.

The drawings have stoked a furor over an anti-Islam film made in California that has provoked sometimes violent protests in several Muslim countries, including attacks on US and other Western embassies, the killing of the US envoy to Libya and a suicide bombing in Afghanistan.

Police were on high alert and occupied strategic positions in the French capital after protests planned by some Muslim groups were banned, but kept a relatively low profile.

French embassies, schools and cultural centers in some 20 Muslim countries were closed on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, in a precaution ordered by the French government.

Mohammed Moussaoui, leader of the French Muslim Council (CFCM) urged French Muslims not to take to the streets for unauthorized protests. "I repeat the CFCM's call not to protest. Any protest could be hijacked and counterproductive," he told French radio station RFI.

Charlie Hebdo
, an anti-establishment satirical weekly, put a new print run of the cartoons featuring a naked Muhammad on the news stands, after the first run of the publication sold out in minutes on Wednesday.

It says the cartoons are designed simply to poke fun at the uproar over the film and on Friday hit back at critics accusing it of deliberately stirring controversy to sell newspapers.

So far there has been little street reaction in France but authorities are concerned they could compound the worldwide fury over the privately funded, California-made video depicting Prophet Muhammad as a lecher.

In Germany, which has a large Turkish community, the satirical magazine "Titanic" circulated a preview of its October edition with a cover linked to the Muhammad film saga.

The photo montage shows the wife of a former German president in the clutches of a bearded, dagger-wielding man in a turban - a satire on a book by former first lady Bettina Wulff about her husband's resignation over the couple's murky finances.

"The West in Uproar: Bettina Wulff Making a Mohammed Film," runs the headline.

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