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France Braces Itself For Violence After Muhammad Caricatures, While Protests Spread To Afghanistan

LE MONDE, AFP, LA LIBÉRATION (France)

Worldcrunch

France is bracing itself for repercussions after satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad Wednesday.

Le Monde reports that a small Syrian organization called Syrian Freedom Association has filed a legal complaint against the French weekly.

It accuses Charlie Hebdo of "throwing oil on the fire by disseminating a cartoon against the Prophet Muhammad."

French officials have announced they will close French schools and embassies around the world, including Egypt and Tunisia, on Friday - the Islamic day of prayer - as a precaution against any expected violence.

The French foreign ministry advised French nationals living abroad to be cautious and avoid "any large gatherings."

Hundreds of people in Afghanistan demonstrated against the publication on Wednesday, reports AFP.

The protests remained peaceful in the capital Kabul, although anti-Western sentiment pervaded, with protesters chanting, "death to France, death to America."

On Wednesday, there were also calls for protests in France's major cities Paris, Lyon and Marseille. La Libération reports that Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has denied a request for police authorization for a demonstration in Paris on Saturday. However, authorities remain on high alert, expecting demonstrations to continue at the weekend.

It has not been the first time the magazine has courted such strong criticism. It was firebombed last November after a special edition of the magazine was "guest-edited" by Prophet Muhammad, entitled "Sharia Hebdo."

Today's issue of Charlie Hebdo (with anti-Muhammad cartoons) has sold out—proof that the only god editors pray to is the God of Sales.

— Laila Lalami (@LailaLalami) September 19, 2012

Charb, Charlie Hebdo's editor told Le Monde: "We are currently getting the 1,058th edition ready. There have only ever been three covers that have caused a scandal, and they've always been about Islam. We could show the Pope having sex with an old bag and there'd be no reaction. At worst, maybe they'd sue us."

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