Middle East

French schools in Tunisia to close over security fears

Protesters shout slogans during a demonstration against security forces seeking to arrest Tunisian Salafist leader Saif-Allah Benahssine over clashes at the U.S. Embassy last week, at the al-Fatah mosque in Tunis September 17, 2012.REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

TUNIS: French schools in Tunisia will close from Wednesday afternoon until Monday morning due to security concerns, after a french weekly published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, the embassy in Tunis said.

"It's a preventative measure. We have not received any direct threats," an embassy source told AFP, adding that the mission would stay closed on Friday, when Islamist demonstrations following weekly prayers are common.

The French Cultural Institute in Tunis and the House of France in Sfax, 250 kilometres south of the capital, will also close from Thursday until Monday morning.

Unlike most other Arab countries, Tunisia follows the Western weekend, meaning that Thursday and Friday are normal working days.

Earlier the French foreign ministry in Paris said France would close its embassies and schools in around 20 countries on Friday because of fears of a being targeted by angry Muslim protesters after the publication of the cartoons.

Police were deployed outside the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo, the left-wing satirical magazine which printed a series of cartoons featuring the Prophet.

The magazine's decision comes against a background of violent protests in the Muslim world over an anti-Islam film.

Four people were killed and dozens wounded on Friday during demonstration by hardline Salafists outside the US embassy in Tunis, with protesters hurling petrol bombs and storming the mission, while police fired live rounds and tear gas.





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