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Paris police ban anti-Islam film demo near Grand Mosque

23 september 2012, 14:29
0
Paris police have banned two demonstrations planned for Saturday, including one in front of the city's Grand Mosque, to protest against a US-made anti-Islam film, AFP reports citing a police source.

Police refused an official request to hold the demonstration before the city's main mosque, the source said. The person who lodged the request claimed to have no affiliation with any group or association.

If the individual concerned tries to hold the march he faces six months in jail and a fine of 700 euros ($900), the source noted, adding that another one in the up-market Paris quarter of Trocadero, opposite the Eiffel tower, had also been banned.

France's interior minister has said he will ban all protests over the low-budget film "Innocence of Muslims", which attacks the Prophet Mohammed after a violent protest last weekend near the US embassy in central Paris.

But social networks have been awash this week with appeals for Muslims in France, home to western Europe's largest Islamic community, to defy the ban and hold fresh protests in Paris, Marseille and other major cities.

Last Saturday's unauthorised protest outside the US embassy gathered between 200 and 250 people.

Since then, tensions have mounted even further with the publication on Wednesday by the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo of cartoons mocking both the film and the Prophet Mohamed.

Police on Thursday detained two men suspected of having been involved in Saturday's demonstration as investigators opened an official inquiry to try to identify those behind the protest.

And officers in the southern city of Toulon, on the Mediterranean coast, picked up a young man after someone close to him said they he wanted to take action against the staff of Charlie Hebdo.

On Wednesday, in Sarcelles, a northern suburb of Paris, one person was hurt when a kosher food store was damaged by a homemade explosive device. It was not clear however if there was any link to the row over the US film or indeed the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

Protests around the world that have left over 30 people dead in the last week have, until now, largely been targeted at the United States, which has had to carry the can for the California-produced "Innocence of Muslims".

Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Paris' Grand Mosque, condemned the drawings of the Prophet Mohammed, but appealed to Muslim groups not to give into the provocation.

He would be reading a message designed to calm the community's anger during Friday prayers, he said.

But French ministers fear the focus could shift to Paris's overseas outposts following publication of the cartoons featuring obscene images of the founder of Islam.

Embassies, consulates, cultural centres and international French schools in around 20 Muslim countries will be closed on foreign ministry orders Friday for fear of retaliatory violence following weekly prayers.

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