French weekly publishes Prophet Muhammad cartoons
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French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday, a move criticised by the French authorities which sent riot police to protect the magazine's offices.
Issues of the magazine hit newsstands with a front cover showing an Orthodox Jew pushing a turbaned figure in a wheelchair with several caricatures of the Prophet on its inside pages, including some of him naked.
The front page cartoon had the wheelchair-bound figure saying "You mustn't mock" under the headline "Untouchable 2", a reference to a hugely popular French movie about a paralysed rich white man and his black assistant.
The publication came amid widespread outrage over a short film, made with private funds in the United States, that mocks the Prophet and has ignited days of sometimes deadly protests in the Arab world, Africa, Asia and some Western countries.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticised the move as a provocation and said he had ordered security beefed up at French diplomatic offices in the Muslim world.
Charlie Hebdo's Paris offices were fire bombed last November after it published a mocking caricature of Muhammad. In 2005, Danish cartoons of the Prophet sparked a wave of violent protests across the Muslim world that killed at least 50 people.
Many Muslims consider any representation of Allah or the Prophet Muhammad offensive.
"Is it relevant and intelligent in this environment to add fuel to the fire? The answer is no," Fabius told France Info radio. "I'm very worried... and when I saw this I immediately issued instructions for special security precautions to be taken in all the countries where it could be a problem."
The government has called for restraint over the cartoons, restating the principles of free speech in France and urging those shocked by the images to take action through the courts.
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