Anti-France protests spread to Iran

Up to 200 people protested without incident in front of France's embassy in Tehran on Thursday over a French satirical weekly's publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, an AFP correspondent reported.

Anti-France protests spread to Iran
Photo: Nick Taylor

The protesters chanted "Death to France," as well as Iran's arch-foes Israel and the United States, as dozens of police deployed around the embassy compound in central Tehran prevented the crowd from approaching.

They dispersed without incident after two hours at the request of the police, however they burnt American and Israeli flags before leaving.

According to diplomats at the embassy, the foreign ministry told them the demonstration by "students" had no official authorisation, although such gatherings in Iran can not take place without a tacit nod from the authorities.

The embassy was closed as a precaution, the diplomats told AFP.

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

The decision by the weekly Charlie Hebdo to print cartoons mocking the Prophet on Wednesday came as fresh protests erupted around the Muslim world over an anti-Islam low budget film made in the United States.

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Erdogan calls French separatism bill ‘guillotine’ of democracy

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday denounced a planned French law designed to counter "Islamist separatism" as a "guillotine" of democracy.

Erdogan calls French separatism bill 'guillotine' of democracy
Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as "anti-Muslim". Photo: Adem ALTAN/AFP

The draft legislation has been criticised both inside France and abroad for stigmatising Muslims and giving the state new powers to limit speech and religious groups.

“The adoption of this law, which is openly in contradiction of human rights, freedom of religion and European values, will be a guillotine blow inflicted on French democracy,” said Erdogan in a speech in Ankara.

The current version of the planned law would only serve the cause of extremism, putting NGOs under pressure and “forcing young people to choose between their beliefs and their education”, he added.

READ ALSO: What’s in France’s new law to crack down on Islamist extremism?

“We call on the French authorities, and first of all President (Emmanuel) Macron, to act sensibly,” he continued. “We expect a rapid withdrawal of this bill.”

Erdogan also said he was ready to work with France on security issues and integration, but relations between the two leaders have been strained for some time.

France’s government is in the process of passing new legislation to crack down on what it has termed “Islamist separatism”, which would give the state more power to vet and disband religious groups judged to be threats to the nation.

Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as “anti-Muslim”.

READ ALSO: Has Macron succeeded in creating an ‘Islam for France’?

Last October, Erdogan questioned Macron’s “mental health”, accusing him of waging a “campaign of hatred” against Islam, after the French president defended the right of cartoonists to caricature the prophet Mohammed.

The two countries are also at odds on a number of other issues, including Libya, Syria and the eastern Mediterranean.