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Egyptians protest French cartoons ridiculing Prophet Mohamed

Security forces block road to French embassy, Friday, as dozens demonstrate against publication of offensive images in French weekly Charlie Hebdo

Ahram Online, Friday 21 Sep 2012
French embassy
Egyptians protest at French embassy (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
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Dozens of protesters congregated in front of the French embassy in Cairo, Friday, to protest against the decision to publish nude cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed in French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

State security forces blocked Mourad Road leading to the Giza-based mission, in order to prevent the protesters from reaching the building.

Protesters raised the familiar black flag emblazoned with the Islamic Shahadah (creed) and chanted "wake up Egyptians, they are insulting your prophet."

Demonstrators complained that the West was deliberately provoking Muslims by printing offensive cartoons immediately after the anti-Islam film sparked protests across the Islamic world. Groups also threatened to boycott French produce.

Most protesters stated that they were not part of any political group, however many are dressed in the traditional Egyptian Islamic attire.

Coptic Christians also participated in the demonstration. "We are here to stand united together," the Christian individuals told TV channel Al-Jazeera Misr. "Every religion has extremists and this person who created The Innocence of Muslims is trying to create sectarian strife between Egyptians."

The French Foreign Ministry, on Wednesday, announced that it would temporarily close its missions in Egypt and in 19 other countries, in addition to stepping up the security presence around French diplomatic sites.

The French embassy in Cairo, for its part, announced that it would close all of its associated cultural centres and schools starting Thursday. France has five consulates in Egypt, in addition to its consulate-general in the capital.

Germany's mission in Cairo is also taking precautions following a national debate in Germany on whether to allow public screenings of the now-infamous short film The Innocence of Muslims.

The cartoons were published on Wednesday in the wake of violent protests across the Islamic world against the release of the contentious US-made film. Street fights between security forces and protesters left two dead in Egypt and over 30 dead across seven countries.

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