Middle East

Yemen boosts security for French mission

Yemeni students chant slogans and hold a banner that reads in Arabic "We are at your service Prophet of God" during a protest in Sanaa on September 17, 2012. AFP PHOTO/ MOHAMMED HUWAIS

SANAA: Yemeni authorities Wednesday beefed up security around the French embassy in Sanaa after a French weekly published cartoons of a naked Prophet Mohammed, a security official told AFP.

"Security reinforcements were deployed today (Wednesday) around the French embassy in Sanaa," the official said on condition of anonymity. "These measures were taken based on the embassy's request."

Wednesday's publication of the controversial images by the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo comes against a background of violent protests across the Muslim world, which first erupted early last week, over an anti-Islam film made in California and posted on the Internet.

The film sparked violent protests also in Yemen.

On September 13, an angry mob of protesters tried to storm the US embassy grounds and clashed with Yemeni security forces, leaving four dead. The embassy has since suspended all consular services for two weeks.

The United States also deployed a 50-strong Marine counter-terrorism unit to Yemen to help protect the embassy in the face of the protests.

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 being targeted by angry Muslim protesters after the publication of the cartoons.

Meanwhile, Yemeni cleric Abdul Majid al-Zendani, who is suspected by Washington of financing terrorism, called for legal action against the producers of the anti-Islam film, "Innocence of Muslims."

Zendani, at a news conference, insisted that the Yemeni government "demand Washington's embassy file a complaint against the producers of the film."

He also called on Washington "to officially apologise to Muslims" for the film and for withdrawing "foreign forces" from Yemen.

The US ambassador in Sanaa Gerald Feierstein insisted Tuesday that the Marine reinforcements deployed to Yemen were on a temporary mission with limited duties.





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