French embassies around the world have been hit by protests following the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a satirical magazine.
Weekly paper, Charlie Hebdo, had its Paris offices burned down by a petrol bomb attack in November, after printing an edition which named the Prophet as “guest editor” and has now printed obscene cartoons of Muhammad in the nude.
The publication of the caricatures has divided opinion in France. It highlights the tension between the western principle of freedom of speech and Islamic beliefs that find insults to the Prophet intolerable.
In Iran, dozens of students and clerics gathered outside the French embassy in Tehran chanting “death to France”, and “Down with the US” as an American made film they find blasphemous continues to also cause controversy.
In Tunisia the French embassy has announced the closure of all French schools until Monday as violence is feared and protests have already taken place in Pakistan where hundreds of people clashed with police. Officers used tear gas and batons to prevent them from reaching French government buildings.
French embassies, consulates, cultural centres and schools in some 20 muslim countries are temporarily closing as much larger demonstrations are expected after Friday prayers.
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