France is now facing the prospect of a violent backlash following the publication of controversial Prophet Mohammed cartoons by the satirical weekly magazine Charlie Hebdo showing the Prophet Mohammed naked. Trying to head off a firestorm not only in the Muslim world but also within the large Muslim population living in France, French officials condemned the publication. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, for example, said that while he respects the right of free expression he sees "no point in such a provocation."
Mindful of the violence against U.S. embassies and consulates which has swept the Muslim world in the wake of the anti-Muslim video produced in the United States, the French government is taking no chances. It will close twenty of its embassies in Muslim countries this Friday, in case the Friday prayers turn into an orgy of violence whipped up by fanatical imams.
The French magazine's editor, Stephane Charbonnier, told reporters that the pictures will "shock those who will want to be shocked." He is deliberately poking a stick at a rattlesnake, not worried about the venomous consequences that will inevitably ensue. He should be worried in light of the fact that the Paris offices of his magazine were firebombed last year after it lampooned the Prophet Mohammed on its front page.