French magazine publishes Mohammad cartoons, embassies closed

Added by on September 19, 2012

Cover of French magazine Charlie Hebdo with image partially obscured

A French weekly magazine, Carlie Hebdo, published cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday, threatening to further increase the anger of Muslims worldwide who are already staging protests and demonstrations after a film, considered to be offencive to Muslims, was released earlier this week.

The magazine’s cover depicts an Orthodox Jew pushing a wheelchair carrying Muhammad. The cartoon is captioned (translated) “Untouchables 2” with Muhammad saying, “don’t laugh” or “don’t mock”.

Cartoons inside the magazine get more controversial where they depict the Prophet naked with a bearded figure crouching over and displaying his buttocks.

The caption in the image accompanying this article is (translated), “100 lashes if you are not dying of laughter.”

The French government had earlier urged the magazine to avoid publishing the cartoons amit the currently tense environment worldwide.

Laurent Fabius, the French Foreign Minister, said in a radio interview, “In France, there is a principle of freedom of expression, which should not be undermined. 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?”

Some customers reportedly showed up in the early morning at kiosks selling the magazine to buy and destroy all of the copies of the magazine.

“When I started at 6:00 this morning a man was already waiting there, a wad of cash in his hand. He asked all copies of Charlie Hebdo, telling me he intended to destroy them along with all others he found a newspaper vendors,” said a kiosk owner.

The magazine has a circulation of about 55,000. A local kiosk owner said, “Usually it does not sell copies and remains there all week.” All copies of the magazine reportedly sold out within about eight hours.

Riot police were sent to protect the magazine’s head office after the magazine was published.

France plans to close its worldwide embassies on Friday.

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby called the drawings provocative and outrageous but said those who were offended by them should “use peaceful means to express their firm rejection”.

The same magazine published similarly controversial images of the Prophet Muhammad in 2005; it’s offices were firebombed at the time.

In Islam, Friday is considered a holy day that includes attendance at a mosque for congregation prayer or Salat AlJumu’ah.