As much of the Muslim world continues to suffer from violent protests sparked by the "Innocence of Muslims" film, French authorities are worried that a Paris magazine will make the conflicts worse.
French satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo said that it will publish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, Agence France-Presse reported. The magazine's editor, who simply goes by the name Charb, told the AFP that the images will "shock those who will want to be shocked."
Charb also claims that the caricatures aren’t any more offensive than the other cartoons that the magazine regularly publishes. “Is freedom of the press a provocation?” he told Libération.
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But the French government is concerned. In a statement to Reuters, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault suggested that the cartoon is a bad idea: "In the current climate, the prime minister wishes to stress his disapproval of all excess and calls on everyone to behave responsibly." It may be too late to do anything though, as the edition with the Muhammad cartoons is scheduled to be published and hit the streets tomorrow.
The French Muslim Council accused Charlie Hebdo of trying to antagonize anti-Muslim sentiment and called on French Muslims to remain calm and "not to give in to such provocation," according to Reuters.
The magazine's director Stephane Charbonnier told CNN that they are simply commenting on the news of the day by publishing the cartoon. "It happens that the news this week is Mohammed and this lousy film, so we are drawing cartoons about this subject. It's more turning in derision this grotesque film than to make fun of Mohammed."
Charlie Hebdo has already been down this road before. In November 2011, the magazine put a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad on its cover. The Paris office of the magazine soon after got fire bombed.
In a statement the French Foreign Ministry said it will close French embassies and schools in 20 countries as a security precaution.
“We have indeed decided as a precautionary measure to close our premises, embassies, consulates, cultural centers and schools,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman told Reuters.
Riot police have also been sent to the Charlie Hebdo offices.