Muhammad cartoon sparks anti-French protests

You can see the video for this story on the euronews website here

French embassies around the world have been hit by protests following the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a satirical magazine.

Weekly paper, Charlie Hebdo, had its Paris offices burned down by a petrol bomb attack in November, after printing an edition which named the Prophet as “guest editor” and has now printed obscene cartoons of Muhammad in the nude.

The publication of the caricatures has divided opinion in France. It highlights the tension between the western principle of freedom of speech and Islamic beliefs that find insults to the Prophet intolerable.

In Iran, dozens of students and clerics gathered outside the French embassy in Tehran chanting “death to France”, and “Down with the US” as an American made film they find blasphemous continues to also cause controversy.

In Tunisia the French embassy has announced the closure of all French schools until Monday as violence is feared and protests have already taken place in Pakistan where hundreds of people clashed with police. Officers used tear gas and batons to prevent them from reaching French government buildings.

French embassies, consulates, cultural centres and schools in some 20 muslim countries are temporarily closing as much larger demonstrations are expected after Friday prayers.

 

Pope calls for peace on last day in Lebanon

You can see the video for this story on the euronews website here

 

On the last day of the Pope Benedict’s visit to Lebanon, he celebrated an open-air mass in front of around 350,000 pilgrims, as well as politicians from all sectors of the multi-faith country.

 

The pilgrims had come to Beirut from across the Middle East, where the service was held at an altar built on land reclaimed with debris from Lebanon’s 1975-1990 sectarian civil war.

 

The crowd cheered and waved Vatican as well as Lebanese flags as the Pope gave a speech in which he appealed for tolerance and religious freedom and for reconciliation between Christians and Muslims.

 

These have been the central themes of the visit which comes amid soaring sectarian tensions in the region, exacerbated by the conflict in Syria.

 

The pope also called on Christians not to leave the region despite war and growing pressure from radical Islamists.

 

 

Myanmar: Government worsens sectarian violence

You can see the video for this story on the euronews website here.

Myanmar security forces committed rape, and mass arrests against Rohingya Muslims in June according to a new Human Rights Watch report.

It said the attacks happened after forces had already stood by during an outbreak of sectarian violence between Muslims and Buddhists in Arkan State, which resulted in dozens of deaths and many villages destroyed.

Phil Robertson, the Deputy Director of Watch’s Asia Division, said that many lives would have been saved if government forces intervened from the outset:

“What was consistent in this narrative was that there was a government failure to intervene, and that meant that the people from the both sides began to arm to defend themselves. And ultimately, a lack of government protection meant that emboldened partisans on both sides more thoroughly planned and executed coordinated attacks on the other side. So in rather short order, the situation descended to chaos.”

The report entitled: ‘The Government could have stopped this,’ also says that over 100,000 Rohingya Muslims have been displaced and are in need of food, shelter and medical care after the government restricted humanitarian aid.