News / Europe

Magazine Cartoon Prompts French Embassy Closures

A riot policeman stands guard outside the French embassy in Cairo, September 19, 2012.
A riot policeman stands guard outside the French embassy in Cairo, September 19, 2012.
VOA News
France plans to close its embassies, consulates, cultural centers and schools in 20 countries Friday as a precautionary measure after a French satirical magazine published cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad.
The country's foreign minister says security is being increased at French diplomatic posts as government and religious leaders call for restraint.
The weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo featured several images of the prophet in its Wednesday issue, including several of him naked. Its offices in Paris were fire-bombed last year after it published a mocking caricature of Muhammad.
Also Wednesday, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said that a request by organizers to hold a protest in Paris Saturday against an anti-Islam film produced in the United States will be refused.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States is taking aggressive measures to protect its diplomats as protests against the film continue.

Video clip: Clinton on Diplomat Safety, protests

Demonstrations prompted the American consulate in the Indonesian city of Medan to temporarily close on Wednesday, following a similar move by the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand a day earlier. Protests also took place Wednesday in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad and in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad.
Clinton said Tuesday that officials are reviewing security at every post and adjusting as necessary.
She also says the Libyan government is helping American investigators probe last week's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that killed the U.S. ambassador and three other diplomats.
Fury about the low-budget film that insults the Prophet Muhammad sparked protests, some of them violent, including at the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia.
Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem has condemned the attack, saying political violence is not acceptable and that such an incident will never happen again. He promised to pursue those responsible for the violence.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Rob Swift from: United Kingdom
September 20, 2012 3:12 PM
There is only one to fear and that is God. Fear of God is the beginning of all undertanding. The Way is the road that leads to Life. It is a narrow road. Free speech counts for little when it is by peoples deeds that they shall be known.(Deeds not words) It is just that the nutters are out at the moment, one mocks Mohammed with sick cartoons, another seeks to mock Christ with a piece of papyrus. The karmic law will prevail even against nutters and people of violence who follow them.

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
September 20, 2012 1:53 AM
I'm sure freedom of expressing one's thoughts should be protected as a non-violated rights of humanbeings around the world. It's also an usual manner when what one's voice has harmed someone's heart without intention, senders should apologize to receivers. What I want to know is that what the purpose of this film maker mocking Islam was. Did he merely want to make fun of Muhammad? Or were there more deep motives as a Christian? He should account for his motive and thoughts on this uploading film. It's evident any violense is not allowed in any situation to protest. But if this film was posted just only to insult receivers, the maker cannot help balmed for recklessness and should apologize to Islams.

by: john from: german
September 19, 2012 10:57 PM
i really can't see any freedom of speech in islam world, can anybody see that ?
In Response

by: nik from: us
September 20, 2012 12:46 PM
john you mean you really cant see any freedom of hate speech in the islamic world. there is a huge variation between the freedom of responsible speech and hate speech.
In Response

by: Ian from: USA
September 20, 2012 10:36 AM
I agree with you.
What puzzles me (and probably many peoples as well ) is the behaviour of many muslims who live in the western world such as Canada, USA, EU, Australia etc..
Obviously they left the oppression , the intolerable way of life in the old countries ( the arab nations) for the reason of building a new future with more hope where freedom lives .
Somehow , once they get to live in the free world, they start to fall back to the opressive religious fanatism themselves (as if without it they would lose their identities) they abuse the freedom by starting all those nasty demonstrations with slogans of slaughter for the infidels (which are you , me and everybody else)
My relatives from Europe sent me pictures of these scenes and the mobs were absolutely blood thirsty.
I believe the western countries & other modern countries around the world should be very careful about accepting muslim immigrants

by: kafantaris from: USA, Ohio
September 19, 2012 7:11 PM
The key element of the right to free speech is that it be independent of its content, and that it be applied equally across the board -- no matter what the subject being discussed -- or who agrees or disagrees with what is being said.
The French government, therefore, violated this basic rule when it prevented Muslims from peacefully protesting in France. Though it may have done this to keep the peace, this is not a good enough reason to cut off free speech and peaceful assembly.
France should thus reverse course and allow Muslims to protest -- to prove its tolerance for dissent and to show how things are done in a mature, civilized country.

by: Maithe Gaspari from: Paris, France
September 19, 2012 5:38 PM
It's a shame that the US and Europeen governements seem afraid now as soon as muslims and arabs are concerned. What's happening to us? Are we so weak? We always should remember that our democratic rules are not their rules. Our way of thinking is not their way of thinking. Are we going to surrender ? Please wake up !

by: Responsibility
September 19, 2012 12:37 PM
Incredible in this present day, that this French magazine editor has not yet understood this kind of satirical publication, against the religion of Islam, evokes a worldwide response, which may likely result in violence to others including himself.
In Response

by: Anonymous
September 19, 2012 7:50 PM
we need to fight for free speech, thumbs up to the french, give me liberty or give me death
In Response

by: Ian from: USA
September 19, 2012 5:50 PM
How about when the muslims destroyed the 1700 year old hundred feet tall Bamiyan buddha statues. Did you see any buddhists going rampant killing ambassadors and peoples from muslim countries ? of course not .

by: Ralph Hopkins from: Canada
September 19, 2012 12:05 PM
Western governments are in fear of Muslims. That is the lead sentence in nearly every story. German officials feared a public screening of the film as does the Canadian government. France has closed embassies and schools and has ramped up national security. The West has been infiltrated by an association bent on world dominance and Islam has unfortunately been forced to show its hand before it planned to, before they managed to get a critical mass in each Western nation. This movie has opened the eyes of Westerners to the fact that Islam and Democracy cannot co-exist.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 19, 2012 1:05 PM
Or do you mean that islam has become latest world power to be feared by all, including the big five? Has the rest of the world lost their independence to islam?

by: umish from: ft lauderdale
September 19, 2012 11:28 AM
it is freedom of speech.. When the islamist denegrate christians and jews that is ok becasue they dont riot, murder, attack embassies.. But you parody Islamists, the go bezerk and kill murder, burn embassies. Do not give an inch to their pathetic fanatisism and xenophobic mentality.
In Response

by: Ian from: USA
September 19, 2012 5:28 PM
I agree,
All I see is that billions of peoples of the islam faith did not drop a tear on the death of the US ambassador .
When you say nothing, you give the impression of approval.
I did not hear the muslim world reprimands the criminals . All i hear is because US does this or Us does that .

by: Michael from: USA
September 19, 2012 8:34 AM
Western powers have held to the policy of "damaging sanctions, lost privileged status" in Muslim countries, especially in Iran and this has set the tone for a backlash, more so than any film could. If any further action is taken against Iran for its nuclear project, unrest could make inroads into liberal democratic nations
In Response

by: Ian from: USA
September 20, 2012 11:46 AM
You really don't think you are in the infidel category list do you?
Many ethnics or religious groups had been wiped out for similar naivety when facing their intolerant uncompassionate aggressors in their days.
"unrest could make inroads into liberal democratic nations"
which country are we talking about?
What is you suggestion then ? sit , wring your hands and do nothing? keep apologize until they come to get you ?
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 19, 2012 1:12 PM
What a bullshit, bunkum, balderdash! Everyone knows Iran sponsors terrorism, but foolish countries allow it to control its citizens. Foolish because the destruction caused therefrom is not going to be the responsibility of the West after all. So who loses? By protests and mob actions issues that would have remained silent became public issues, and so this film received wider viewership than it deserved.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs