Posted: Wednesday, September 19th 2012 at 1:26pm
New French cartoons inflame prophet film tensions
By The Associated Press
Afghan university students. some shouting "Death to America!," burn a U.S. flag east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday. (AP photo)
PARIS — A French magazine published vulgar caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday, brandishing its right to free speech amid global tensions over a movie insulting to Islam.
In response, the French government ordered embassies and schools to close Friday in about 20 countries and tens of thousands marched in Lebanon in protest.
The move by the provocative weekly Charlie Hebdo followed days of violent protests from Asia to Africa against the film "Innocence of Muslims" and turned France into a potential target of Muslim rage. Up to now, American government sites have drawn the most ire since the film was produced privately there.
Violence linked to the amateurish movie, which portrays the prophet as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester, has killed at least 30 people in seven countries, including the American ambassador to Libya.
The French government ordered its embassies and French schools abroad to close on Friday, the Muslim holy day, as a precautionary measure in about 20 countries. It immediately shut down the French Embassy and the French school in Tunisia, which saw deadly film-related protests at the U.S. Embassy there last week.
In the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre, tens of thousands of people marched through the streets Wednesday, chanting "Oh America, you are God's enemy!"
Nasser Dheini, a 40-year-old farmer, said he was angry over the anti-Islam movie and the French caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
"Freedom of opinion should not be by insulting religions," Dheini said, carrying his son Sajed, 4, who was dressed in camouflage military uniform.
Dheini said instead of boosting security at French embassies, France should close down the offending magazine.
Other development Wednesday included:
— The French Foreign Ministry issued a travel warning urging French citizens in the Muslim world to exercise "the greatest vigilance," avoiding public gatherings and "sensitive buildings."
— Several hundred lawyers protesting the movie forced their way into an embassy area in Pakistan's capital.
— The United States temporarily closed its consulate in an Indonesian city because of similar demonstrations.
— Hundreds protested the film in Sri Lanka's capital, burning effigies of President Barack Obama.
Associated Categories: National News
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