Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012
PARIS (AP) -- France is stepping up security at some of its embassies. This, after a satirical Parisian weekly published crude caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.
The French government is defending the right of the magazine to publish the cartoons. Riot police have taken up positions outside the offices of the magazine, which was firebombed last year after it released an edition that mocked radical Islam.
But France's foreign minister, while defending freedom of expression, is also warning that the magazine could be throwing "oil on the fire," amid the continuing anger over a movie insulting to Islam. And he says it's up to the courts to decide whether the magazine went too far.
The Foreign Ministry is urging French people in the Muslim world to exercises "the greatest vigilance," avoiding all public gatherings and "sensitive buildings" such as those representing the West or religious sites.
Muslim leaders in France are urging calm. The head of the Grand Paris Mosque said the cartoon is a "useless and stupid provocation," but that Muslims aren't going to automatically "react at each insult."
One of the magazine's cartoonists is defending the cartoon, saying, "It's just a drawing. It's not a provocation."
(Copyright 2012, The Associated Press)