A satirical French weekly, Charlie Hebdo, published vulgar caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. The magazine’s crude cartoons played off the film and ridiculed the violent reaction to it. The government ordered embassies and schools abroad to close on Friday, the Muslim holy day, as a precautionary measure in about 20 countries. The French embassy and a French school in Tunisia were immediately closed.
The foreign ministry issued a travel warning urging French citizens in the Muslim world to exercise “the greatest vigilance.”
The government defended Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish the caricatures, but banned a demonstration against the film, planned for Saturday. France has the largest Muslim population in western Europe.
The renewed debate in France about the limits of free expression spread to neighboring Germany as a group dropped plans to show extracts of the film “Innocence of Muslims” because of the outcry it has caused.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called on all those “who rightly invoke the right of freedom of speech, to also act responsibly.” Speaking in Berlin, Westerwelle said, “the one who now puts more oil on the fire on purpose, with obvious effect, is not the greatest thinker.”
The German Embassy in Sudan, which was attacked last week, remains closed and security at the country’s embassies in other countries has been beefed up.
Tens of thousands of people marched in the southern port city of Tyre chanting “Oh America, you are God’s enemy,” and, “At your service, Muhammad.”
The demonstrators were led by Nabil Kaouk, a commander of the militant Hezbollah group, who warned the U.S. and France not to anger Muslims because “our nation that is ready to defend the prophet.” They protesters carried the yellow banners of Hezbollah and the green flags of Amal, both Shiite Muslim movements. They dispersed peacefully.
The United States temporarily closed its consulate in the country’s third largest city of Medan because of demonstrations. It was the third consecutive day of protests in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province. About 300 members of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, a pan-Islamic movement, rallied peacefully in front of the consulate in Medan. About 50 Muslim students also protested there a separate rally. Both groups called on Washington to punish the makers of the film.
Several hundred lawyers protested the anti-Islam video in the capital Islamabad, forcing their way into an area that houses the U.S. Embassy and other foreign missions. The protesters shouted anti-American slogans and burned an American flag after they pushed through a gate, gaining access to the diplomatic enclave before police stopped them. They called for the U.S. ambassador to be expelled from the country, and then peacefully dispersed.
Pakistan officials opened an investigation into a businessman who has been accused of blasphemy after refusing to join protests over an anti-Islam video and allegedly trying to convince others also not to take part. Blasphemy is punishable by life imprisonment or death.
About 300 Muslims protested against the film in the capital Colombo, calling for its U.S.-based creators to be hanged. They carried signs and banners that read, “Ban anti-Islamic film all over the world. U.S. should apologize to Muslims,” and chanted, “Hang the producer and director of the film.” Protesters also spit upon and walked on U.S. and Israeli flags during the demonstration, which was organized by an Islamic group called Sri Lanka Thaweed Jamath.
Hundreds of university students in the eastern city of Jalalabad staged a protest and burned an effigy of President Barack Obama before dispersing peacefully.