French magazine runs cartoon caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad

Following last week’s violence by Islamic extremists over an online trailer mocking the Prophet Muhammad a French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, has today published cartoons caricaturing the founder of Islam.

The provocative move has been justified by editor Stephane Charbonnier as “not really fueling the fire,” but commenting on “the news in a satirical way”.

However, the offices of the magazine are being guarded by riot police and French embassies are on alert today around the world.

The story thrusts another French magazine into the international spotlight in the space of a few weeks.

Two weeks ago celebrity title Closer sparked condemnation in the UK after it ran naked pictures of Kate Middleton while on holiday in France. Yesterday William and Kate won a legal battle in French courts.

This is not the first time Charlie Hebdo has gone down this path. In November its offices were firebombed after it published a mocking caricature of Muhammad echoing the protests sparked in 2005 by Danish cartoons, which left at least 50 people dead.

The demonstrations last week surrounding the online trailer for the film Innocence of Muslims’ has left as many as 30 people dead including the American ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.

“Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, asked about the publication, said any provocation now could only be condemned.

“Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault issued a statement saying: “In the current climate, the prime minister wishes to stress his disapproval of all excess and calls on everyone to behave responsibly.”

“France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim population. Calls are already circulating on social networks and the Internet for protests on Saturday over an anti-Islam film that was made with private funds in the United States and posted on the Internet.

“Last Sunday police arrested about 150 people who sought to take part in an unapproved protest near the U.S. Embassy in Paris,” Reuters reports.