The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo which caricatures religious figures of all faiths, has gone ahead with publishing its cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed in defiance of the recent worldwide Muslim protests. Prompting France to announce it will close its embassies in 20 countries on Friday as a precaution against violent demonstrations after Friday prayers.
In light of these protests French Muslim leaders called for calm after a meeting with Interior Minister Manuel Valls over the publication of pictures. Speaking in French the leader of the French Council say they will not respond to provocation.
"We expressed to the Minister the indignation and the anger of Muslims following a series of provocations. We have also told the minister of our quiet and serene spirit. They will not respond to provocation, they won't give in to provocation.
Mr Valls then took the opportunity to explain that freedom of speech is a fundamental freedom.
"Freedom of speech is a fundamental freedom. And the freedom to caricature is part of that fundamental right. That can shock some people. That is the case. And the courts are there for those who want to use them. Each and every one -- as the Prime Minister said with a lot of force this morning -- should show responsibility. Every individual act, everything that is written, every drawing, every statement can exacerbate, can provoke confrontations. So everyone is responsible. But there can be no question about the right to expression, which is the one of the fundamental rights of a society.
Authorities are keen to avoid a repeat of minor protests last Saturday against a film critical of Islam that led to the arrest of dozens of people in the area surrounding the Interior Ministry, which is near to the U.S. Embassy.
Written and presented by Ann Salter