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More anti-islamic cartoons published

French Muslim leaders urge for calm after more Prophet Muhammad cartoons were published.

World


PARIS - The main agency representing Muslims in France appealed for calm on Friday as a new print run of cartoons featuring a naked Prophet Muhammad hit newsstands, raising fears of protests around the Islamic world.

The drawings in satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo risk stoking a furore over a film mocking the Prophet, which provoked the storming of US and other Western embassies, the killing of the US envoy to Libya and a suicide bombing in Afghanistan.

French embassies, schools and cultural centres were shut in some 20 Muslim countries on orders issued from Paris after the cartoons were first published.

In the French capital, police were on alert after protests planned by some Muslim groups were banned.

Mohammed Moussaoui, leader of the French Muslim Council (CFCM), described both the film and the cartoons as "acts of aggression" but appealed to French Muslims not to take to the streets for wildcat protests.

"I repeat the CFCM's call not to protest - any protest could be hijacked and counterproductive," Moussaoui told French radio station RFI.

Charlie Hebdo, an anti-establishment weekly whose Paris offices are under police protection, defied critics to rush out another run of the publication that caused outrage and sold out in minutes last Wednesday.

It says the cartoons are designed simply to poke fun at the uproar over the film.

The cartoons have sparked little street anger in France so far, but French authorities are concerned they could compound the worldwide fury over the privately funded, California-made video depicting Prophet Muhammad as a lecher.

French media showed TV footage of an embassy protected by soldiers and masses of barbed wire in North African former colony Tunisia, where the Islamist-led government has also decreed a ban on protests over the cartoons.

About 100 Iranians protested outside the French embassy in Tehran on Thursday.

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