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France to close 20 embassies Friday over cartoons

French President Francois Hollande meets French residents in spain at the French embassy on August 30, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ DOMINIQUE FAGET

PARIS: France will close its embassies and schools in around 20 countries Friday because of fears of a hostile reaction to a magazine's publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius earlier announced that he had ordered special security measures "in all the countries where this could pose a problem."

Demonstrations in the Islamic world often follow Friday prayers.

Fabius admitted that he was "concerned" by the potential for a backlash to satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo's printing of a series of cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed against a background of violent protests in the Muslim world over an anti-Islam film.

The crudely-made US film is the main target of Charlie Hebdo's cartoons but they are open to easy misinterpretation and it seemed inevitable that the finer points of the magazine's satire would be lost in translation as the images circulate around the world.

The weekly carries a total of four cartoons, two them showing the Prophet naked.

 

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