World Bulletin / News Desk
France said it would temporarily close its embassies and schools in 20 countries on Friday after a French magazine published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, a move it fears will further inflame tensions over a film mocking the prophet.
"We have indeed decided as a precautionary measure to close our premises, embassies, consulates, cultural centres and schools," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said of the shut-down on Friday, prayer day across the Muslim world.
French weekly Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad on Wednesday and the French authorities sent riot police to protect the magazine's offices.
Issues of the magazine hit newsstands with a front cover showing an Orthodox Jew pushing a turbaned figure in a wheelchair with several caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad on its inside pages, including some of him naked.
The front page cartoon had the wheelchair-bound figure saying "You mustn't mock" under the headline "Untouchable 2", a reference to a hugely popular French movie about a paralysed rich white man and his black assistant.
The publication came amid widespread outrage over a short film, made in the United States, that mocks the Prophet and has ignited days of sometimes deadly protests in the Arab world, Africa, Asia and some Western countries.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticised the move as a provocation and said he had ordered security beefed up at French diplomatic offices in the Muslim world.
Charlie Hebdo's Paris offices were fire bombed last November after it published a mocking caricature of Prophet Mohammad. In 2005, Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad sparked a wave of protests across the Muslim world that killed at least 50 people.
Ban on protests
"Is it relevant and intelligent in this environment to add fuel to the fire? The answer is no," Fabius told France Info radio. "I'm very worried... and when I saw this I immediately issued instructions for special security precautions to be taken in all the countries where it could be a problem."
The government has called for restraint over the cartoons, arguing "the principles of free speech" in France and urging those shocked by the images to take action through the courts.
As outrage over the anti-Muslim film continues to fuel protests across the Islamic world, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said the authorities had rejected a request to hold a march against the film in Paris.
"There is no reason for us to allow conflicts that do not concern France to enter our country," Ayrault told RTL radio.
Social media had circulated calls for a protest on Saturday against the film, after police arrested about 150 people who tried to take part in a protest near the U.S. Embassy in Paris last week.
Le Pen, Wilders sa, 2017 will see awakening of continental Europe and put an end to supremacy of EU
Protests taking place across globe as US turnout rivals Trump inauguration crowd
With women's empowerment a key factor in shaping the future, thousands of women and men in Washington are joining hands in solidarity with sister marches around the world to promote rights for women
Defense minister sends welcome message to Turkish President ahead of his official Africa tour
An EU summit in December called for increasing support to the Libyan coast guard, which the EU began training and equipping last October.
A group of Israeli settlers were rescued by the mayor of a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank
Published moments after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, a statement on the White House website said that the US will develop a "state-of-the-art missile defense system" to defend against attacks from Iran, North Korea and others.
The meeting aims to discuss the six-year conflict in Libya, which fell into turmoil since 2011
Two men and two women were rescued alive in the the early hours of Saturday.
Earlier this month the prime minister reshuffled his cabinet to align better with the incoming US administration.
Billed as a "counter-summit", organisers of the European Nationalists have said the parties would use the event in the historic Rhine river city of Koblenz to set out their joint "vision for a Europe of freedom".
Foreign Ministry statement says Gambian people showed 'prudent stance' during political crisis
Shuwail had served as Libya’s interior minister from October 2012 to May 2013
Trump also will focus on removing hurdles to domestic energy development that he argues will make the US independent of foreign oil.
The UN Security Council last year extended the mandate of UNAMID until the end of June 2017 over fierce opposition from the government in Khartoum.
Tzipi Livni was expected in Brussels on 23 January for a conference at the European Parliament, but pulled out citing illness however was not too ill to speak to the New York branch of the Israel lobby group the Anti-Defamation League on Wednesday.