Paris. Paris police have banned a demonstration planned for Saturday in front of the city’s Grand Mosque to protest against a US-made anti-Islam film, a police source said.
An individual had made an official request to police to hold the demonstration about the film that has sparked protests across the world but was refused permission, the source said.
If the individual tries to hold the march he faces six months in jail and a fine of 7,500 euros ($9,700), the source noted.
France’s interior minister has said he will ban all protests over the low-budget film “Innocence of Muslims” after a violent demonstration last weekend near the US Embassy in Paris.
But social networks were 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.
Tensions were heightened when the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday published obscene cartoons that mocked both the film and the Prophet Muhammad.
Leaders of France’s Muslim community said an appeal for calm would be read in mosques across the country on Friday but also condemned Charlie Hebdo for publishing “insulting” images.
Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said anyone offended by the cartoons could go to court, but he also stressed that in France “freedom of expression is guaranteed, including the freedom to caricature.”
The protests 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.”
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 centers and international French schools in around 20 Muslim countries will be closed on foreign ministry orders on Friday for fear of retaliatory violence following weekly prayers.