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Archive for western diplomats

Nobel peace laureates call for Israel military boycott over Gaza assault

Letter with 52 signatories including artists and activists also denounces US and EU ‘complicity’ through weapons sales

A group of Nobel peace prize-winners, prominent artists and activists have issued a call for an international military boycott of Israel following its assault on the Gaza Strip this month.

The letter also denounces the US, EU and several developing countries for what it describes as their “complicity” through weapons sales and other military support in the attack that killed 160 Palestinians, many of them civilians, including about 35 children.

The 52 signatories include the Nobel peace laureates Mairead Maguire and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel; the film directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach; the author Alice Walker; the US academic Noam Chomsky; Roger Waters of Pink Floyd; and Stéphane Hessel, a former French diplomat and Holocaust survivor who was co-author of the universal declaration of human rights.

“Horrified at the latest round of Israeli aggression against the 1.5 million Palestinians in the besieged and occupied Gaza Strip and conscious of the impunity that has enabled this new chapter in Israel’s decades-old violations of international law and Palestinian rights, we believe there is an urgent need for international action towards a mandatory, comprehensive military embargo against Israel,” the letter says.

“Such a measure has been subject to several UN resolutions and is similar to the arms embargo imposed against apartheid South Africa in the past.”

The letter accuses several countries of providing important military support that facilitated the assault on Gaza. “While the United States has been the largest sponsor of Israel, supplying billions of dollars of advanced military hardware every year, the role of the European Union must not go unnoticed, in particular its hefty subsidies to Israel’s military complex through its research programmes.

“Similarly, the growing military ties between Israel and the emerging economies of Brazil, India and South Korea are unconscionable given their nominal support for Palestinian freedom,” it says.

The letter opens with a quote from Nelson Mandela: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

The other signatories include John Dugard, a South African jurist and former UN special rapporteur in the occupied territories; Luisa Morgantini, former president of the European parliament; Cynthia McKinney, a former member of the US Congress; Ronnie Kasrils, a South African former cabinet minister; and the dramatist Caryl Churchill.

Source: Guardian News

US can become world’s biggest oil producer in a decade, says IEA

The US could become self-sufficient, while 90% of Middle Eastern oil could go to China, according to new estimates

The US can shed its longstanding dependence on Saudi Arabian oil within the next decade, redrawing the world’s political systems and potentially leading to runaway global warming.

In a report released on Monday, the world’s foremost energy watchdog, the International Energy Agency (IEA), said the US would benefit from so-called unconventional sources of oil and gas, including shale gas and shale oil, derived from fracking – blasting dense rocks apart to release the fossil fuels trapped within.

These sources could fuel the US’s energy independence, and make the country the world’s biggest oil producer by 2017. But, if pursued with vigour, they would also lead to huge increases in greenhouse gas emissions that would put hopes of curbing dangerous climate change beyond reach.

If this happens, more than 90% of oil and gas from the Middle East could be sold to Asia, and chiefly to rapidly developing countries such as China, within the same timeframe, the IEA predicted.

Fatih Birol, chief economist at the IEA and one of the world’s foremost authorities on energy and emissions, said the outlook for action on climate change was bleak unless the US changed direction rapidly. “Climate change has been slipping down the agenda,” he said. “It is not having a significant impact on energy investors.”

Companies were excited by the prospect of shale gas, which has been subject to widespread development in the US in the past decade, and shale oil, which relies on newer technology but is set for its own boom, according to the IEA’s analysis.

Birol said the outlook for cutting emissions was doubtful. “I don’t see much reason to be hopeful that we will see reductions in carbon dioxide,” he told the Guardian. “We have seen more carbon dioxide emitted this year.”

He pointed out that subsidies to fossil fuels had increased while government assistance for renewable energy around the world had been cut or thrown into doubt. But he said that if countries outside the US wanted to make their industries more competitive, they should invest in energy efficiency and renewables. He also called for progress at the United Nations climate change talks in Doha at the end of this month.

Europe could remain shackled to fossil fuel imports if it fails to develop its natural resources in the form of renewable energy, the IEA found in its World Energy Outlook, the definitive annual examination of the world’s energy sources.

Gas prices in the US are at present about a fifth of those in the EU, but that is unlikely to change in the short term because of the difficulty for the US in exporting gas. Instead, most of the US gas glut will be used domestically, which could drive down costs for industry and allow US manufacturers to undercut international competitors. Birol said the EU should exploit its potential for energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, in order to stay competitive.

The IEA said the result of new technology allowing the exploitation of new sources of fossil fuels would be a redrawing of the international energy map. In the past five decades the US has relied increasingly on the Middle East for its oil. But if it were self-sufficient in energy, as it could be by 2035, that would mark a huge shift in world politics. The relationships between the US and the Middle East have for decades been defined by America’s thirst for oil for its automobile-driven economy.

George W Bush tried to redraw this relationship after September 11 2001 by encouraging the use of biofuels in the US, made from turning maize into car fuel. But this endeavour has run into serious problems, as this year’s drought pushed up grain prices and focused attention on the question of how far food crops could be turned into fuel without raising prices and compromising food production.

Birol said the exploitation of “unconventional” fossil fuels represented the biggest redrawing of the energy map for decades. “This makes a huge difference,” he said. But he said there was still hope of avoiding disastrous levels of climate change if companies pursued energy efficiency, which could yield immediate benefits in cutting energy bills.

Ed Matthew, director of the thinktank Transform UK, warned: “Energy independence will not increase national security in the US if it leads to runaway climate change. Ultimately the majority of fossil fuel reserves will need to be left in the ground. The US is a hotbed of technological innovation. It must use this creative muscle to develop a low-cost, clean energy revolution. It will only achieve this if the massive vested interests of the American oil industry are brought under democratic control.”

Rolf Wuestenhagen, director of the institute for economy and the environment at the University of St Gallen in Switzerland, questioned whether the boom in shale gas in the US could continue in line with the predictions: “It seems surprising that IEA still expects half of the increase in global gas production by 2035 to come from unconventional gas. Is this wishful thinking?”

Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said that the report showed that renewable energy was still being disadvantaged by subsidies poured into fossil fuels, in the UK, Europe and around the world. He said: “This puts into context the level of financial support given to fossil fuel-based electricity generators such as coal and gas compared to renewable energy. We hope these figures will silence the vocal minority of naysayers who repeatedly claim renewable technologies such as wind power are too expensive.”

The IEA also said that renewable energy had become an “indispensable part of the global energy mix” and could become the world’s second biggest source of power generation by 2015.

Source: Guardian News

US soldier ‘lucid’ after Afghan massacre

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales.—File Photo

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD: A US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan villagers was “lucid” and admitted to the crimes, witnesses and prosecutors said as he appeared in court for the first time Monday.

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, 39, had been drinking whisky and watching a violent action movie with comrades before heading out of his base twice to massacre victims including women and children in two nearby villages.

His wife and lawyer have claimed that Bales, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, could not remember what he did on the night of March 11 in the Panjwayi district of Kandahar province.

But prosecutors refuted that claim Monday, at the start of a two-week so-called Article 32 hearing held to determine if he should face a full court martial over the killings, the worst US military crime in the decade-old war.

“He was lucid, he was coherent, he was responsive,” said prosecutor Joseph Morse at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, adding that Bales had admitted to the crimes, reportedly saying: “It’s bad, really bad.” Sporting a shaved head and wearing fatigues, Bales answered the judge’s questions in a clear voice, responding: “Sir, yes sir.” He alternated between sitting forward and slumping against the back of his chair.

Morse said the night began in the room of a fellow soldier, Sergeant Jason McLaughlin, where they drank Jack Daniel’s and Diet Pepsi while watching “Man on Fire” starring Denzel Washington as an ex-assassin on a revenge mission.

At some point after leaving McLaughlin’s room, Bale then allegedly entered the room of Sergeant Clayton Blackshear and had a rambling conversation in which he said he was unhappy with his home life.

“He talked about having bad kids, an ugly wife, he basically didn’t care if he made it back home to them,” Blackshear testified.

Bales also expressed frustration that those responsible for an IED attack the previous week had not been found and brought to justice.

Sometime around midnight, Bales allegedly left the base, heading south to a nearby village, and visited two houses. At the first, he shot one man while the others in the house fled across the street to a neighbour’s house.

Bales then entered the second house, killing three more while injuring six with gunshots to the face, neck, thigh and knees.

Bales is then alleged to have returned to base and conversed with at least one soldier before leaving once again, this time headed in the opposite direction.

McLaughlin testified that Bales came into his room at around 2:00 a.m. and admitted to shooting up the nearby village. McLaughlin, who did not believe Bales and was annoyed at being woken up, recalled the following exchange:

Bales: “I’ll be back at 5 [am]. You got me?”

“Whatever, Bob,” McLaughlin replied.

“Take care of my kids,” Bales said, grabbing McLaughlin’s hand.

“No Bob, take care of your own kids,” McLaughlin replied.

“No, take care of my kids,” Bales repeated.

“OK Bob,” McLaughlin said.

The second excursion was more deadly, Bales allegedly visited two Afghan dwellings, again killing one person in the first home.

In the second home, he murdered 11 people, including women and children. He then gathered the bodies in the center of the room, setting them alight, according to the prosecutor.

Bales faces 16 counts of murder, six of attempted murder, seven of assault, two of using drugs and one of drinking alcohol. Seventeen of the 22 victims were women or children and almost all were shot in the head.

Another witness, Corporal David Godwin, meanwhile testified that he tried unsuccessfully to help Bales dispose of evidence after his arrest, investigators found a vial of stanozolol, an anabolic steroid.

Godwin, who has been granted immunity from prosecution in return for testifying, also said that in the aftermath, Bales told him, “It’s bad. It’s bad. It’s real bad.” Witnesses and relatives of victims are expected to testify via video link from Afghanistan next week, when the US-based hearings will be held in the evening, to allow Afghan testimony during daylight hours.

Source: Dawn News

Mahmoud Abbas outrages Palestinian refugees by waiving his right to return

Images of Abbas burned by refugees who say he has conceded on one of the most visceral issues on Palestinian agenda

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is facing widespread condemnation and anger in the Palestinian territories and abroad after he publicly waived his right to return to live in the town from which his family was forced to flee in 1948, a repudiation of huge significance for Palestinian refugees.

After his image was burned in refugee camps in Gaza, Abbas rejected accusations that he had conceded one of the most emotional and visceral issues on the Palestinian agenda, the demand by millions of refugees to return to their former homes in what is now Israel.

He insisted that comments made in an interview with an Israeli television channel were selectively quoted and the remarks were his personal stance, rather than a change of policy.

Abbas told Channel 2 he accepted he had no right to live in Safed, the town of his birth, from which his family was forced to flee in 1948 when Abbas was 13.

“I visited Safed before once, he said. “But I want to see Safed. It’s my right to see it, but not to live there.”

Referring to the internationally-recognised pre-1967 border, he went on: “Palestine now for me is ’67 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. This is now and forever … This is Palestine for me. I am a refugee, but I am living in Ramallah. I believe that the West Bank and Gaza is Palestine and the other parts are Israel.”

The comments sparked protests in Gaza, where people in refugee camps burned images of the Palestinian president. Abbas was denounced on Twitter by pro-Palestinian activists.

Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas ruler in Gaza, said the issue was not about Abbas’s right to return to Safed but “the rights of 6 million Palestinians”.

He said in a statement: “No one has the right, whoever he is – a common man or president, organisation, a government or authority – to give up an inch of Palestinian land.”

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, said the president’s statement did “not represent in any way the views of the Palestinian people”.

The “right of return” is one of the most intractable issues in talks between the Israelis and Palestinians for a resolution to their decades-old conflict. The Palestinians have historically demanded that all those who fled or were expelled from their homes in the period around the formation of the state of Israel in 1948, and their descendants, must be allowed to return to their former homes.

About 5 million Palestinians are registered as refugees in the Palestinian territories and abroad.

Israel rejects their demand, saying that such a move would spell the end of the Jewish state.

Most international diplomats and observers believe that a settlement to the conflict is likely to involve a symbolic number of Palestinian refugees being given the right to return.

Following the broadcast of the interview, Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, said Abbas’s comments were a “brave and important public declaration”. In a statement, he said Abbas had shown he was “a real partner for peace” and that he understood “the solution to the Palestinian refugee issue cannot be in Israel’s territory and to the detriment of Israel’s character”.

Israel’s defence, minister Ehud Barak, described Abbas’s remarks as courageous and clear.

But Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. dismissed the comments, saying that the Palestinian president had different messages for different audiences. “There is no connection between [his] statements and his actual actions,” he said, calling for Abbas to return to negotiations.

Palestinian sources played down the row, saying Abbas’s comments had been misconstrued. One suggested the president had been ill-prepared for the interview and it had been a mistake to agree to conduct it in English, a language in which Abbas is not fluent.

Ghassan Khatib, an academic at Bir Zeit university in the West Bank and a former Palestinian Authority spokesman, said Abbas had not suggested a change in the official position. “This is an optional right. If an individual refugee does not wish to return, he will be free not to return. We all know that all Palestinians are not going to return. Some understand this, some do not.”

In the interview, Abbas also said that, while he was president, there would be “no third armed intifada [uprising against Israel]. Never.”

He said: “We don’t want to use terror. We don’t want to use force. We don’t want to use weapons. We want to use diplomacy. We want to use politics. We want to use negotiations. We want to use peaceful resistance. That’s it.” He has said that Palestinian negotiators are willing to resume talks with Israel following the submission of a request, expected later this month, to the UN general assembly for recognition as a “non-member state”.

Israel and the US are vehemently opposed to the move, which is expected to be passed by a majority of the UN’s 193 member states.

Source: Guardian News

Anti-Jihad Adverts To Run In New York Subway

The controversial leader of the group behind the adverts says she believes that America is at risk from some Muslims.New York subway station generic
The adverts are due to appear next week

The head of a group that has won its fight to run controversial adverts in New York subway stations referring to some Muslims as “savage” has told Sky News that she will fight “to the death” for the right to offend people.

Pamela Geller runs the American Freedom Defence Initiative (AFDI), which has taken out ads that read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

The posters are due to appear in 10 New York City subway stations next week.

They were initially rejected by the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) because of the use of demeaning language.

But in July a Manhattan court judge ruled this was a violation of the first amendment rights of the AFDI and they should be allowed to run.

Ms Geller told Sky News that she was unconcerned the adverts might make the subway network a target for violence.

She said: “Were there similar ads on the London buses and trains on 7/7? You know there weren’t.

“I will not abridge my freedoms so as not to offend savages.

“I won’t take responsibility for other people being violent.

“I live in America and in America we have the first amendment.”

Ms Geller, who is a prominent supporter of Israel, stressed that she was not referring to all Muslims as savages, only those who engaged in what she characterises as “Jihad”.

She believes that America is under threat from some Muslims who wish to impose Sharia law on the country, and her group has launched similar campaigns before.

The release of the adverts coincides with widespread anger in parts of the Middle East over an anti-Muslim film made in the US and released on the internet.

Next week heads of state from all over the world will be converging on the city amid heightened security for the UN General Assembly.

The Washington DC MTA has deferred the placement of the controversial ads “out of concern for public safety, given current world events”.

But New York MTA Transportation spokesman Aaron Donovan said: “Our hands are tied.”

There had been some suggestions that the city’s transit body was trying to find a way to stop the adverts appearing.

However, another spokesperson for the MTA told Sky News it appeared the ads are definitely going ahead, although he was unable to say on which day, and at which subway stations.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations, told Sky News: “Our basic position is that the first amendment means that everyone is free to be a bigot or even an idiot like Pamela Geller.

“We wish she wasn’t provoking and inciting hatred, but in America that’s her right.

“We encourage Muslims to exercise the same right to publicly denounce such adverts.

“The real danger is the spread of hatred in our society, which can lead to attacks on innocent people.”

Source: Sky News

Judge rejects actor’s request to remove anti-Muslim clip from YouTube

Cindy Lee Garcia says script she saw for Innocence of Muslims did not mention prophet Muhammad

Cindy Lee Garcia, the American actor who appeared in the controversial anti-Muslim film clip that sparked furious worldwide protests last week, has failed in a bid to have it removed from YouTube.

On a day of new demonstrations in Pakistan and rising tensions across the Arab and Muslim worlds ahead of Friday prayers, a Los Angeles judge rejected Garcia’s request partly because the man thought to be behind the clip, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is in hiding, and was not served with a copy of the lawsuit.

The provocative trailer, Innocence of Muslims, triggered protests from Tunisia to Indonesia as well as a pre-planned assault in Benghazi which killed the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other diplomats. The White House said on Thursday it was “self-evident” that it was a “terrorist attack” that may have had an al-Qaida connection.

Garcia filed the lawsuit on Wednesday citing death threats against her and her inability to visit her grandchildren. Garcia said she was tricked by Nakoula and that the script she saw mentioned neither Muslims nor Muhammad. She called it “demoralising and degrading”. Garcia became involved when she responded to an advert for a “historical Arabian Desert adventure film,” the document says. The film was later altered with anti-Islamic voiceovers.

As the repercussions continued, the Pakistani army was drafted in to protect foreign embassies on Thursday after thousands of violent protesters clashed with police. Dozens were wounded in vicious street fighting after students, many carrying the banners of hardline religious parties, attempted to converge on the diplomatic quarter in the heart of Islamabad.

It was the capital’s first serious violence related to the film and came amid escalating tension, with protests on consecutive days all around the country. The US state department warned its citizens against non-essential trips to Pakistan.

The authorities in Islamabad had been making significant preparations for what many fear will be the most violent day of protests over the film. In response the government declared Friday “a day of love for the prophet”, a move which was welcomed by the Taliban and which risks substantially increasing the already high chance of violence.

In Tehran, hundreds of students and clerics gathered outside the French embassy to condemn the publication of caricatures of Muhammad in a satirical weekly magazine, Charlie Hebdo. Protesters chanted “death to France” and “down with the US” and burned US and Israeli flags.

Egypt’s Grand Mufti, Ali Gomaa, said this act showed how polarised the west and the Muslim world had become. But Al Azhar, Egypt’s seat of Sunni learning, warned that any protest should be peaceful. Last week an angry crowd stormed the US embassy in Cairo.

Western embassies tightened security in the Yemeni capital Sana’a.

Iraq’s prime minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned both the US-produced film and the French cartoons as offensive to Muslims and called on Shia and Sunnis to unite in defence of Islamic values.

Anti-US protests were reported from the Afghan capital Kabul. In Makassar, in Indonesia, protesters burned tyres and forced a McDonald’s restaurant to close.

Muslim groups in Germany also announced plans to hold protests on Friday.

In an attempt to defuse tensions, the EU, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the Arab League and the African Union issued a joint message. “We share a profound respect for all religions,” it said. “We are united in our belief in the fundamental importance of religious freedom and tolerance. We condemn any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to hostility and violence. While fully recognising freedom of expression, we believe in the importance of respecting all prophets, regardless of which religion they belong to. The anguish of Muslims at the production of the film insulting Islam, posting of its trailer on the internet and other similar acts, is shared by all individuals and communities who refuse to allow religion to be used to fuel provocation, confrontation and extremism.”

Source: Guardian News

France prepares for backlash to magazine’s cartoons of Muhammad

Protests expected worldwide in response to caricatures of the prophet Muhammad published in the magazine Charlie Hebdo

French embassies and schools around the world have been put on high alert in fear of a backlash after a magazine published cartoons mocking the prophet Muhammad and Muslims.

Paris has ordered special security measures at official buildings, including diplomatic and consular representations, and instructed those in 20 particularly sensitive countries to close on Friday, the Islamic prayer day.

Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister said he was “concerned” at the possibility of hostile reactions to the caricatures published in the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The cartoons, some of which feature Muhammad, come amid continuing protests by Muslims around the globe over an anti-Islam film, Innocence of Muslims.

The offices of Charlie Hebdo were firebombed last November after it published an edition entitled Charia Hebdo, supposedly guest-edited by Muhammad.

On Wednesday, France’s prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, said in a statement: “In the current climate, the prime minister wishes to stress his disapproval of all excesses and calls on everyone to behave responsibly.”

Questioned on RTL radio, he added: “We are in a country where the freedom of expression is guaranteed, along with the freedom to caricature.”

Shortly afterwards there were calls for protests against the caricatures and the film in Marseille, Toulouse, Lyon and Paris. Ayrault said a request had been made for police authorisation to hold the demonstration in Paris on Saturday, but that it would be refused. On Sunday, police arrested more than 100 people who had gathered to protest against Innocence of Muslims near the US embassy in the French capital.

An Afghan suicide bombing linked to protests about the film killed 12 people on Tuesday.

All 75,000 copies of Charlie Hebdo sold out according to the magazine, whose editors are planning to print more on Friday. The magazine’s website was unavailable all of Wednesday after it was apparently hacked and closed down.

According to L’Express magazine an unnamed association had begun legal proceedings against Charlie Hebdo for incitement to hatred. Dalil Boubakeur, the senior cleric at Paris’s biggest mosque, appealed for France’s four million Muslims to remain calm.

“It is with astonishment, sadness and concern that I have learned that this publication is risking increasing the current outrage across the Muslim world,” he said.”I would appeal to them not to pour oil on the fire.”

The publication of the caricatures, on the front cover, as well as on the inside and back pages of Charlie Hebdo brought widespread condemnation.

Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the highest authority in Sunni Islam, said in a statement that “inciting hatred in the name of freedom was to be totally rejected”.

Essam el-Erian, the acting head of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party, said the French judiciary should deal with the issue as firmly as it had handled the case against the magazine that published topless pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge. “If the case of Kate is a matter of privacy, then the cartoons are an insult to a whole people. The beliefs of others must be respected,” he told Reuters.

Mahmoud Ghozlan, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, said French law should deal with insults against Islam in the same way as it deals with Holocaust denial. “If anyone doubts the Holocaust happened, they are imprisoned, yet if anyone insults the prophet, his companions or Islam, the most [France] does is to apologise in two words. It is not fair or logical,” he said.

Richard Prasquier, president of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France, said he disapproved of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons after the killings in the row over the film.

“It is in consideration of those deaths that I disapprove of Charlie Hebdo’s initiative,” he said in a statement. “To publish caricatures of the prophet Muhammad in these times, in the name of freedom, is an irresponsible kind of panache.”

André Vingt-Trois, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Paris, told French radio the cartoons would “provoke revulsion among many Muslim believers, who will feel their faith has been insulted”. He added: “You cannot say anything in the name of freedom of expression”.

Outside Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices, the magazine’s editor, Stéphane Charbonnier, was unrepentant and denied he was being deliberately provocative. Charbonnier, who drew this week’s front page, and two of his fellow cartoonists, have been under police protection since the firebomb attack.

“The freedom of the press, is that a provocation?” Charbonnier said. “I’m not asking strict Muslims to read Charlie Hebdo, just like I wouldn’t go to a mosque to listen to speeches that go against everything I believe.”

Earlier he had told French journalists the latest caricatures would shock “only those who will want to be shocked”.

Richard Malka, the magazine’s lawyer, added: “We are in a secular country … the tradition of caricaturing religion goes back more than a century.”

And France’s interior minister Manuel Valls, who met Muslim leaders on Wednesday, said caricature was a “fundamental right” of freedom of expression. He added that protests that caused public order issues or were aimed a “sowing hatred” would not be tolerated.

Announcing the security measures, Fabius said he was “against all provocation”.

On Wednesday evening, Egyptian authorities announced they would be ordering French schools and cultural centres to close on Thursday to head off potential trouble.

In September 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten caused an international storm by publishing 12 cartoons depicting Muhammad. The ensuing protests across the world resulted in more than 100 reported deaths. The Danish embassy in Pakistan was bombed, and Danish embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran were set alight.

One of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, who uses the name Tignous, defended the drawings. “It’s just a drawing,” he said. “It’s not a provocation.”

Source: Guardian News