A French magazine ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday by portraying him naked in cartoons, threatening to fuel the anger of Muslims around the world who are already incensed by a film depiction of him.
The drawings in satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo risked exacerbating a crisis that has led to the killing of the US ambassador to Libya and a deadly suicide bombing in Afghanistan.
Riot police were deployed to protect the magazine’s Paris offices after it hit the news stands. The French government said it was temporarily shutting down premises including embassies and schools in 20 countries on Friday, when protests sometimes break out after Muslim prayers.
Arab League secretary-general Nabil Elaraby called the drawings provocative and outrageous but said those who were offended by them should “use peaceful means to express their firm rejection”.