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.”

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
techApp to start sending headlines, TV clips and ads to your phone
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Radcliffe and Zoe Kazan in What If
filmReview: Actor swaps Harry Potter for Cary Grant in What If
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Sales Representative, Leicester

£25-£30k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major well established nationwide market...

Sales Representative, Birmingham

£25-£30k Plus Car: Charter Selection: Major well established nationwide market...

Juniper Security Consultant

£300 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Juniper Security Consultant London (Greater)

C# .NET Developer (SQL, ASP.NET, JS, MVC) London - Finance

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Develo...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment