20 Sep 2012

France tightens security over Prophet cartoons

10:35 pm on 20 September 2012

Security is being increased at France's interests abroad after a French satirical magazine published obscene cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Embassies, consulates, cultural centres and international French schools in 20 countries will be closed on Friday as a precaution, the BBC reports.

Government ministers voiced concern at the cartoons in the weekly Charlie Hebdo, but defended the freedom of the press.

Riot police have been deployed around the magazine's offices in Paris.

The magazine has confirmed that its website has been attacked. It was not accessible as of Wednesday morning.

Its paper edition features caricatures playing on both the uproar in the Islamic world over an amateur video that mocks Islam, and the row over the publication in France of topless photos of the Duchess of Cambridge.

Some 30 people have died in violent protests that erupted early last week over the Innocence of Muslims video, which was made in the United States.

A tenet of Islam bans the portrayal of its founder, the Prophet Muhammad

The dead include US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, who died in Benghazi. US and other Western embassies have come under attack in mainly Muslim countries.

Sudan has ordered the blocking of access to the YouTube website to prevent people watching the film, which it says insults the Prophet Mohammad.

YouTube's owner, Google, has already blocked access to the film in Egypt, Libya, India and Indonesia, but it has rejected a request by the White House to pull it from the site altogether.