Islam: France, tension high ahead of Friday prayer
PARIS - Tension is high in France ahead of prayers Friday, a holy day for Muslims, after French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published cartoons mocking Prophet Mohammed sending the Muslim community up in arms. All eyes are on Paris, where a demonstration in front of the Grand Mosque scheduled on Saturday was banned, and on Marseille. Heavy security measures ordered by the interior ministry are clearly visible in the city with police vehicles deployed in all the strategic areas downtown. Heavy security measures are also being taken to protect public transport, targeted by attacks in 1995.
Authorities, including most of Islam's religious leaders, have launched an appeal against violence although a number of protests over the weekend are currently being organized on the web in all major cities. A slogan being currently circulating on social networks is 'don't touch my prophet'. Meanwhile Charlie Hebdo is preparing to re-publish today its blasphemous edition which was quickly sold out Wednesday.
Some 250 people identified as 'close to Salafite groups' staged a demonstration last Saturday in front of the American embassy against a film mocking the prophet and published in the US which has sparked violence in which the US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and another three Americans died.
Police stopped the demonstration, arrested and identified 150 people. The interior ministry has not only banned the protest in front of the Grand Mosque but also an apparently peaceful demonstration which had been organized by activists in Trocadero square. (continue reading...)