France enters the ring against the Muslim world:
PARIS — A French satirical magazine on Wednesday published a series of cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad, setting off a new wave of outrage among Muslims and condemnation from French leaders amid widening unrest over an amateur video that has provoked violence throughout the Islamic world.
The illustrations, some of which depicted Muhammad naked, hit newsstands across the country on Wednesday and were met with swift rebuke from the government of François Hollande, which had earlier urged the magazine, Charlie Hebdo, not to publish the cartoons, particularly in the current tense environment.
The foreign minister stands up proudly for free expresson in France, when the time is right:
“In France, there is a principle of freedom of expression, which should not be undermined,” Laurent Fabius, the foreign minister, 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?”
In an interview on France Info radio, Mr. Fabius announced that, as a precaution, France planned to close its embassies in 20 countries on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, which has become an occasion for many to express their anger although “no threats have been made against any institutions.” A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the closures would affect French consulates, cultural centers and schools as well.
The BBC has more.