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France Closes 20 Embassies Over New Muhammad Cartoons

Less than a year after their offices were firebombed for publishing a caricature of the prophet Muhammad, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has created a controversy in France for publishing cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad naked in their latest issue.

Stephane Charbonnier, the editor of Charlie Hebdosays the cartoons were an attempt to poke fun at the furor over the anti-Muslim film causing protests throughout the Arab world, and will “shock those who will want to be shocked.”

According to the French newspaper Le Monde, one of the cartoons inside the magazine, entitled “Muhammad: a star is born,” depicts a bearded figure crouching over to display his buttocks and genitals.

The front-page of the magazine features a cartoon of an Orthodox Jew pushing a Muslim man in a wheelchair, who is saying, “You mustn’t mock us!” under the headline “Untouchable 2,” a reference to a popular French film about a paralyzed rich man and his black assistant.

NBCNews.com has reported that France is temporarily closing its embassies and schools in 20 countries, fearing a violent backlash from protestors over the cartoons. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on France Info radio, “Is it relevant and intelligent in this environment to add fuel to the fire?”

Charlie Hebdo is available on news stands all over France and is a top publishing venue for many top, French gag cartoonists. “Hebdo” is French for “weekly” and “Charlie” is a reference to the iconic cartoon character, Charlie Brown.

Charlie Hebdo’s web site went down yesterday because of a hacker attack. Our own site at cagle.com went down for a time yesterday in response to an unusually sophisticated, denial of service attack.