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French police nip banned Islam demos in the bud

French police enforced a ban on on protests over an anti-Islam film and cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed, made 21 arrests in Paris and thwarted plans for a march in a northern city

AFP , Saturday 22 Sep 2012
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French police enforcing a ban on on protests over an anti-Islam film and cartoons mocking the Prophet Mohammed made 21 arrests in Paris on Saturday and thwarted plans for a march in a northern city.

Those arrested in the capital, who included several veiled women, were detained near the Place de la Concorde, where a week ago an unauthorised demo against the film led to 150 arrests.

Riot police were deployed in several areas of Paris Saturday to enforce the ban on protests over the US-produced film "Innocence of Muslims" and the cartoons published in a French satirical magazine.

Squads were positioned near the city's Grand Mosque, on the Trocadero square that overlooks the Eiffel Tower, and on the Place de la Concorde.

AFP reporters in the northern city of Lille saw police stopping a group of about a dozen women trying to unveil a banner and detaining a man who appeared to be giving orders to the women.

The would-be protestors said they wanted to demonstrate against "provocations against Islam".

In Marseille in the south, a police helicopter and 60 riot police deployed to prevent any protests, but only a single demonstrator turned out. Around 30 journalists were also on hand to witness the man's attempt to defy the ban.

Social networks have been awash this week with appeals for Muslims in France, home to western Europe's largest Islamic community, to hold fresh protests.

France's Muslim leaders on Friday urged militants to respect the law.

Interior Minister Manuel Valls has said he will not sanction any protests this weekend on the grounds they will inevitably represent a threat to public order.

Also Saturday a 24-year-old rail worker was sentenced to three months in jail for carrying a weapon and taking part in an armed gathering during last Saturday's protest in Paris.

French police have meanwhile arrested a man for apparently calling on a jihadi website for the decapitation of the editor of the magazine that published the cartoons mocking Mohammed, a judicial source said.

The man was detained in the western city of La Rochelle for calling on the radical website for the head of Stephane Charbonnier, boss of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which on Wednesday published the cartoons of a naked Prophet.

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