France will temporarily close its embassies and schools in around 20 countries on Friday, fearing a violent reaction to a French magazine’s publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.
"We have indeed decided as a precautionary measure to close our premises, embassies, consulates, cultural centers and schools," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that he was concerned by the satirical cartoons published by the French weekly Charlie Hebdo and announced that he had ordered special security measures "in all the countries where this could pose a problem.”
The front cover of the magazine on Wednesday showed an Orthodox Jew pushing a turbaned figure in a wheelchair, who is presumed to be the Prophet Mohammed, while other cartoons depict the Muslim figure in the nude.
Charlie Hebdo's Paris offices were firebombed last November after it published a caricature of Mohammad. In 2005, Danish cartoons of Mohammed sparked a wave of violent protests across the Muslim world that killed at least dozens of people.