France Closing Embassies After Cartoonist Lampoons Muhammed
The French Government is moving quickly to quell any backlash resulting from a French magazine’s decision to publish a cartoon showing the prophet Muhammed nude.
It announced that it will be closing 20 embassies in Muslim countries as a safeguard after the recent airing of an anti-Muslim film has already sparked riots and more than a dozen people dead, according to reports.
The editor of the weekly, Stephane Charbonnier, defended the publisher’s decision to print the satiric cartoon on the back page of the publication and admitted that it would shock some people.
“Muhammad isn’t sacred to me,” he said. “I don’t blame Muslims for not laughing at our drawings. I live under French law. I don’t live under Quranic law.”
French foreign minister Laurent Fabius has denounced the magazine for its latest inflammatory images. “In France, there is a principle of freedom of expression, which should not be undermined,” he said in a French radio interview. “In the present context, given this absurd video that has been aired, strong emotions have been awakened in many Muslim countries. Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire?”
Government officials, including the Prime Minister of France as well as the Foreign Minister, condemned publication Charlie Hebdo’s decision to go ahead with printing the controversial cartoon in light of the murder of the Ambassador to Libya and other deaths in the wake of a release of an alleged American-made film that criticized Muhammed and made fun of the Muslim religion.
At least 20 people were killed and hundreds were injured across the Middle East in a week of attacks and violent protests against U.S. embassies over “Innocence of Muslims.”