France on alert at home and abroad over cartoons row
PARIS (AFP) - France's Muslim leaders on Friday urged militants not to defy a ban on protests over cartoons mocking Prophet Muhammad as a security alert closed the country's embassies across the Islamic world.
French schools, consulates and cultural centres in 20 Muslim countries were closed along with the embassies for fear of retaliatory attacks over a Paris weekly's publication of the controversial cartoons, which have fuelled protests over the United States (US)-made film Innocence Of Muslims. Protests over the film have left more than 30 people dead in little over a week.
Mr Mohamed Moussaoui, the President of the French Muslim Council (CFCM), said there was widespread anger among France's four million Muslims over Charlie Hebdo's cartoons, but said there was nothing to gain from taking to the streets.
"Any demonstration in the current context is likely to be hijacked and end up being counter-productive," he said. "French Muslims have to respect the decisions taken about authorising demonstrations."