Anti-Islam cartoon in French magazine leads to embassy and school closures
Issue illuminates freedom of expression and press in the western world
Charlie Hebdo, a magazine with a small circulation in France has published a series of cartoons that are demeaning to Islam and the prophet Muhammad. In response, the French government ordered embassies and schools closed in about 20 countries. Since France is the European country with the most Muslims, officials fear the nation will be targeted in the latest wave of violence stemming from the "Innocence of Muslims" film.
The crude cartoons contained in the magazine allude to the violent reaction that greeted "Innocence of Muslims" film.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned that the magazine could be throwing "oil on the fire" - but says the courts will decide if the magazine went too far.
The crude cartoons contained in the magazine allude to the violent reaction that greeted "Innocence of Muslims" film. Riot police took guard outside the offices of the magazine. The magazine had previously mocked radical Islam, and had been firebombed last year.
"Charb," Charlie Hebdo's chief editor has been placed under police protection for a year.
"Muhammad isn't sacred to me," Charb said in an interview conducted at the magazine's Paris office. "I don't blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law; I don't live under Quranic law."
Charb said he had no regrets and felt no responsibility for any violence. "I'm not the one going into the streets with stones and Kalashnikovs," he said. "We've had 1,000 issues and only three problems, all after front pages about radical Islam."
Violence linked to the amateur film includes the deaths of at least 30 people in seven countries, including the American ambassador to Libya.
The French government ordered embassies and schools abroad to close on Friday, the Muslim holy day, as a precautionary measure in about 20 countries. 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 week.
In addition, the French Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning that urged French citizens in the Muslim world to exercise "the greatest vigilance," avoiding public gatherings and "sensitive buildings" such as those representing the West or religious sites.
Free speech limits spread to Germany, where Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle spoke on the topic.
"I call on all those, especially those who rightly invoke the right of freedom of speech, to also act responsibly. The one who now puts more oil on the fire on purpose, with obvious effect, is not the greatest thinker," he said.
The German Embassy in Sudan, which was attacked last week, remains closed and security at German embassies in other countries has been beefed up, he said.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
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