World Bulletin / News Desk
France banned on Friday it would allow no street protests against cartoons denigrating Islam's Prophet Mohammad that were published by a French magazine this week.
The government had called for restraint over the cartoons, arguing "the principles of free speech" in France but halted protests by Muslims who say the government denied them the same rights, complaining double standards.
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.
"There will be strictly no exceptions. Demonstrations will be banned and broken up," he said.
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 embassies, schools and cultural centres were shut in some 20 Muslim countries, on orders issued from Paris after the cartoons were first published.
In the French capital, police were on alert after protests planned by some Muslim groups were banned.