The planned publication in France of new cartoon mocking the Muslim prophet Mohammed may cause Muslim rage to boil over.
At least 30 people have died since an amateurish trailer for the “Innocence of Muslims” anti-Islam film, produced by Christians in the United States, was posted on the Internet. Previous films and cartoons have angered Muslims the past several years, but the Arab Spring rebellions and the ensuing Muslim fundamentalist governments set the stage for world-wide riots the past week.
A female suicide bomber killed 12 people in Afghanistan on Tuesday in the deadliest single attack attributed to the controversial film which has sparked furious protests across the Muslim world, AFP reported.
After a week that has seen protests in at least 20 countries, there were fears that the wave of anger in the Islamic world could hit harder in Europe as it emerged that French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo was planning to publish cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Mohammed in its Wednesday edition.
Charlie Hebdo is no stranger to controversy over its handling of the issues relating to Islam.
Last year it published an edition "guest-edited" by the Prophet Mohammed that it called Sharia Hebdo. The magazine's offices in Paris were subsequently fire-bombed.
Charlie Hebdo's latest move was greeted with immediate calls from political and religious leaders to avoid inflaming the situation while arousing concerns over eroding free speech in the face of Muslim claims of “incitement” whenever radical Islam is documented.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault issued a statement expressing his "disapproval of all excesses".
The magazine's editor, originally a cartoonist who uses the name Charb, said the images would "shock those who will want to be shocked".
Dalil Boubakeur, the senior cleric at Paris's biggest mosque, appealed for France's Muslims to remain calm.
President Barack Obama said Tuesday he expected governments in the Muslim world to protect American diplomats, despite their revulsion at a film made on American soil deemed offensive to their faith.
"The message we have to send to the Muslim world is that we expect you to work with us, to keep our people safe," Obama said during a taping of the "Late Show with David Letterman" on CBS TV.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, said "we are taking aggressive steps to protect" diplomatic missions worldwide.
Among those killed so far have been four U.S. diplomatic staff in Libya, including ambassador Chris Stevens, who died when angry Muslims laid siege to the American mission in Benghazi a week ago on September 11 in a four-hour attack.
In Afghanistan, Hezb-i-Islami, the second largest insurgent group after the Taliban, said the suicide bomb attack was to avenge the "insult" of the film.
"The bombing was in retaliation for the insult to our Prophet," spokesman Zubair Sidiqi told AFP by phone from an undisclosed location.
Taliban fighters last week stormed a British-run airfield, killing two US Marines and destroying six U.S. Air Force fighter jets in another act of vengeance.