Paris braced for protests over cartoon
FRENCH EMBASSIES and schools in 20 countries will close today as Paris braces itself for protests against the publication by a satirical magazine of cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad.
A formal complaint for incitement to hatred was lodged with police in Paris yesterday against Charlie Hebdo, the weekly that ran drawings showing the prophet naked.
The complaint was made by a little-known group called the Syrian Freedom Association, which accused the magazine of “throwing oil on the fire” by disseminating the caricatures.
Charlie Hebdo’s actions were condemned across the Muslim world, but there were widespread calls for restraint in protesting against the publication.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood urged France to take legal action against the title, while Tunisia’s largest party, Ennahda, criticised the magazine but urged people not to fall into the “trap of provocation”.
Western embassies tightened security in Sanaa, fearing the cartoons could lead to more unrest in the Yemeni capital, where crowds attacked the US mission last week over an anti-Islam film made in California.
In the latest of a wave of protests against that video in the Islamic world, several thousand Shia Muslims demonstrated in the northern Nigerian town of Zaria, burning an effigy of US president Barack Obama and crying “Death to America!”
The cartoons have provoked relatively little street anger so far, although about 100 Iranians demonstrated outside the French embassy in Tehran.
French media defended Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish the drawings but many politicians and commentators accused its editors of poor judgment.
In a front-page editorial, the Catholic daily La Croix argued that “editorial responsibility requires an assessment of the consequences of what one publishes” and that “fuelling the flames to show one’s noble resistance to extremism leads to offending simple believers”.
Daniel Cohn-Bendit, leader of the main Green group in the European Parliament and a prominent figure in German and French politics for decades, dismissed the editors as “idiots”. While such cartoons should not be banned, he said, there were “limits to provocation”.
“They are masochists, they must enjoy it,” he added.
Meanwhile, an actress who claims she was defrauded by the producer of the controversial film said she would ask a California judge to order its removal from YouTube.
Actress Cindy Lee Garcia, who said she had received death threats after the video was posted online, has accused Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the California man linked to the making of The Innocence of Muslims, of fraud and slander.