French close embassies over cartoons

FRANCE will close diplomatic sites in 20 Muslim countries over concern that a French satirical magazine's publication of cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad may provoke a violent backlash.

France will close embassies, consulates, cultural centers and French schools on Friday, the day of prayer for Muslims, the foreign ministry said in an emailed statement.

"We have given instructions in all countries where it could pose a problem to take particular security measures," Stephanie Desbois, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, said in the statement.

The publication of the caricatures in the weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo comes just days after a film seen to be denigrating the prophet provoked demonstrations against U.S. missions overseas.

The protests resulted in the death of the US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other diplomats.


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