France braces for Muslim fury after magazine publishes Mohamed cartoons

French embassies and schools in Islamic countries to close on Friday for fear of violence

Paris

France was braced last night for an eruption of anti-French fury in the Muslim world after a satirical magazine published provocative cartoons of a naked prophet Mohammed in sexually-suggestive positions.

Paris ordered all of its embassies and schools in Muslim countries to close tomorrow in expectation of violent demonstrations after Friday prayers. French travellers were advised to avoid Muslim destinations.

The magazine Charlie Hebdo - angrily condemned by some French politicians and defended by others - said that the four pages of cartoons were a satire on the Islam-baiting American movie “The Innocence of Muslims” and not an attack on Islam.

But the intense vulgarity of some of the drawings, and Charlie Hebdo's record of publishing anti-Islamic cartoons, seems certain to provoke an extreme response in Muslim countries and amongst radical Muslims in France.

The magazine's offices were fire-bombed after it published an edition dominated by cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed last November. Riot police were deployed to guard the rebuilt offices yesterday. The magazine's website was shut down all day by a cyber attack.

Charlie Hebdo's drawings instantly deepened the anti-western outrage in the Muslim world provoked by the film “Innocence of Muslims”, a crude anti-Islamic tirade made in America and posted online earlier this month. At least 30 people, including the US ambassador to Libya, have died in the last nine days during violent demonstrations and attacks on Western embassies and commercial interests.

French politicians and media commentators found themselves torn yesterday between fury at Charlie Hebdo's decision to - in Le Monde's words - “throw oil on the flames” and a desire to defend the magazine's right to free speech. The Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called for a “sense of responsibility” and condemned the magazine's “excesses” but recalled that “liberty of expression is one of the fundamental principles of our Republic”.

The respected centre-left newspaper Le Monde said that the cartoons were “in bad-taste, even disgusting” but less disturbing than the preaching of indiscriminate anti-Western violence by radical imams in the Muslim world.

The Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt expressed its indignation but called for a measured response on the streets. The acting head of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, Essam Erian, compared the cartoons to the topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge published last week by the French edition of Closer magazine. He called on the French legal authorities, which condemned Closer, to take a similarly line with Charlie Hebdo.

“If the case of (the duchess) is a matter of privacy, then the cartoons are an insult to a whole people. The beliefs of others must be respected,” Mr Erian said.

Mr Erian will be disappointed. The privacy of individuals is protected by French law. There is no law banning insults to religions.

The French government closed its embassy and schools in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country yesterday. It ordered similar closures in a dozen other Muslim countries before and after Friday prayers tomorrow.

Charlie Hebdo is a scurrilous, far-left weekly magazine which consists mostly of cartoons. This week's edition has four pages of drawings on Islamic themes, ranging from the mild to the violently provocative.

Two images purport to show rear views of a naked Prophet Mohammed as if posing for an X-rated movie. Another shows a spoof cover of Closer magazine with an image of a bearded “Madame Mohammed” showing her breasts. The most extreme drawing shows a Muslim man - not the Prophet himself - threatened with anal sex.  

Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Paris Mosque, described the drawings as a “disgraceful and hateful, useless and stupid provocation” but he urged the faithful not to react “like animals of Pavlov to… each insult”.

The editor of the magazine, who is known by his cartoonist's name Charb, said the cartoons were intended to mock the American anti-Islamic film and to satirize the extreme reactions to it in the Muslim world. “If we start asking whether we can portray Mohammed, we'll end up asking whether we can portray Muslims,” he said. “Then we'll be asking whether we can portray human beings… and a handful of extremists… in the world and in France will have won.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game