American Muslim groups, concerned about potential backlash from the recent terrorist killings in France, are scrambling to get out a dual message to the American public: Muslims in the U.S. may be offended by images that ridicule the prophet Muhammad, but they condemn violence and support the principle of free speech.

"The caricatures of the Prophet are offensive, but the violent assault on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo was a complete affront to Islamic principles and values," the Los Angeles-based Muslim American Public Affairs Council said in a statement Wednesday.

Officials at the Council on American Islamic Relations, headquartered on Capitol Hill, said they had received death threats and calls from fearful American Muslims in the wake of last week's attack on the Paris magazine, which left 12 dead. The two attackers shouted that they were avenging the prophet for the publication's provocative depictions of Islam's holiest figure.

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