A French satirical magazine today 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…
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The cover of Charlie Hebdo today shows a Muslim in a wheelchair being pushed by an Orthodox Jew under the title Intouchables 2, referring to an award-winning French film about a poor black man who helps an aristocratic quadriplegic.
It featured several caricatures of the Prophet showing him naked in what the publishers said was an attempt to poke fun at the furor over the film. One, entitled “Mohammad: a star is born”, depicted a bearded figure crouching over to display his buttocks and genitals.
Another cartoon on the back page of the weekly magazine shows a naked turbaned Mohammed exposing his posterior to a film director, a scene inspired by a 1963 film starring French film star Brigitte Bardot.
Charlie Hebdo’s website crashed today after being bombarded with comments that ranged from hate mail to approbation.
The illustrations, some of which depicted Muhammad naked and in pornographic poses, hit news- stands across the country on Wednesday and were met with a swift rebuke from the government ofFrançois Hollande, which had earlier urged the magazine, Charlie Hebdo, not to publish the cartoons, particularly in the current tense environment.
“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 the 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 closings would affect French consulates, cultural centers and schools as well.