French Muslims ignore calls for cartoon protest

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The Independent Online

According to France's most senior Muslim cleric, something historically important happened in French cities at the weekend. That something was nothing.

Despite calls from radical groups and social network users, there were no large-scale demonstrations by France's five million Muslims over scatological cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed published by the satirical weekly newspaper, Charlie Hebdo.

Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, said the vast majority of Muslims in France had shown their determination to preserve "national unity and public order". "We can say the response of the Muslim community to those who tried to provoke us was a contemptuous silence," headded.

Small groups of Muslims did try to demonstrate in Paris, Lille and Lyon but were arrested or cleared away by riot police. On the whole, calls issued by radical groups were ignored. The previous Saturday, 100 people were arrested when 500 demonstrators gathered in central Paris to protest against the anti-Islamic movie The Innocence of Muslims.