France is to close its embassies around the world on Friday after a magazine prints cartoons

19 September 2012

France is to close its embassies around the world on Friday, in case of a backlash against the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, according to a minister.

The cartoons have just been published in satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo in a move that is seen as likely to inflame outrage among Muslims who have already been protesting against an anti-Islamic film.

At least 30 people have died so far in demonstrations against the Innocence of Muslims film in more than 20 countries.

The last time Charlie Hebdo stoked controversy over Islamic issues its Paris offices were fire-bombed.

That attack last year was blamed on an edition "guest-edited" by the Prophet Mohammed that it called Sharia Hebdo.

Charlie Hebdo's latest move was greeted with immediate calls from political and religious leaders for the media to act responsibly and avoid inflaming the current situation.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault issued a statement expressing his "disapproval of all excesses".