FRANCE WARNS CITIZENS TO BE CAUTIOUS OVER MUSLIM ANGER
France warned its citizens in several Muslim-majority countries to take extra security precautions as anger surged over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, and the head of Russia’s Chechnya region said Paris was pushing people towards terrorism, Christian Lowe and Andrew Osborn reported for Reuters late.
In Bangladesh, thousands of protesters marched through the capital, with some stamping on a poster of French President Emmanuel Macron, and Iran summoned the French charge d’affaires to register a protest over the cartoons. But in a sign that some countries want to limit the fallout, Saudi Arabia - while condemning the cartoons - held back from echoing calls in other parts of the Muslim world for a boycott of French products.
The row has its roots in a knife attack outside a French school on Oct. 16 in which a man of Chechen origin beheaded Samuel Paty, a teacher who had shown pupils cartoons of Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson. The caricatures are considered blasphemous by Muslims.
The French government, backed by many citizens, saw the beheading as an attack on freedom of speech, and said they would defend the right to display the cartoons. Macron called the teacher a hero, and he pledged to fight “Islamist separatism,” saying it was threatening to take over some Muslim communities in France. The foreign ministry on Tuesday issued safety advice to French citizens in Indonesia, Turkey, Bangladesh, Iraq and Mauritania, advising them to exercise caution. They should stay away from any protests over the cartoons and avoid any public gatherings.