French consulate, schools to close temporarily following offensive Prophet cartoons

Ahram Online , Wednesday 19 Sep 2012

French cultural centres and schools to temporarily close following publication of offensive Prophet Mohamed cartoons in prominent French magazine

French embassy
A man walks near riot police vehicles guarding outside the French embassy in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

The French embassy in Cairo on Wednesday announced that it would close its cultural centres and schools starting Thursday following the publication of offensive cartoons depicting Prophet Mohamed in prominent French magazine Charlie Hebdo.

However, according to a statement issued by France's Consul-General in Cairo on Wednesday, French consulates in Egypt will remain open to French nationals in case of emergency.

"The embassy has asked the relevant Egyptian authorities to strengthen security around its sites," the Consul-General said.

The embassy has also stated that it would resume business as usual on Sunday.

According to the statement, French schools and cultural centres in Egypt will reopen on Sunday.

Earlier on Wednesday, the French Foreign Ministry in Paris told AFP that France planned to close its embassies and schools in around 20 countries – including Egypt – on Friday.

The latest batch of cartoons has prompted fears of a similar public reaction in Egypt to that seen last week at the US embassy, which was stormed by angry demonstrators protesting an anti-Islam short film produced in the US.

Last week's clashes between protesters and police at the US embassy in Cairo's Garden City district went on for five days, leaving at least two dead and hundreds injured. A number of demonstrators were also arrested.

As of press time, the French embassy in Cairo was surrounded by more than 20 trucks belonging to Egypt's Central Security Forces in anticipation of demonstrations or clashes.

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