A Lebanese Army soldier on an APC secures the area near the French Consulate in Beirut (Photo : Reuters)
French missions in the Middle East and Northern Africa have beefed up their security or announced temporary closures following a French magazine's drawing of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.
The magazine, Charlie Hebdo, featured several drawings of the Prophet in the nude.
According to Reuters, one drawing, titled "Mohammad: a star is born," features the Muslim Prophet with a beard crouching over and displaying his rear and genitals.
Like Us on Facebook
The French government has warned the magazine to not publish the cartoons, following violent protests in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) when a Dutch newspaper published 12 editorial cartoons of the Prophet in 2005 and an anti-Islam film made in California was posted online which led to the death of US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens on Sept. 11.
Up to 20 countries will see embassies and schools shut down on Friday.
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby stated the cartoons were outrageous and added that those offended should "use peaceful means to express their firm rejection."
This is not the first time that the French magazine posted a caricature of Mohammad, as their offices was firebombed last November and has been under increase police security since.
Charlie Hebdo Editor Stephane Charbonnier told Reuters "We have the impression that it's officially allowed for Charlie Hebdo to attack the Catholic far-right but we cannot poke fun at fundamental Islamists. It shows the climate. Everyone is driven by fear, and that is exactly what this small handful of extremists who do not represent anyone want: to make everyone afraid, to shut us all in a cave."