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    France To Shutter Schools And Embassies Over Offensive Muhammed Cartoons

    The illustrations come in the midst of violent protests over an obscure American filmmaker's Muhammed movie. ("This seems like a good idea," said no one.)

    Michel Euler / AP

    Charb, publishing director of French weekly Charlie Hebdo.

    Charlie Hebdo publisher Stephane "Charb" Charbonnier told reporters that the series of cartoons he ran Wednesday aren't meant to mock Muhammed, but the fury around the Innocence of Muslims movie.

    "It happens that the news this week is Mohammed and this lousy film, so we are drawing cartoons about this subject," he said. "It's more turning in derision this grotesque film than to make fun of Mohammed."

    Images of the cartoons inside the issue weren't available online, but Reuters described them as naked caricatures of Muhammed. "One, entitled 'Mohammad: a star is born', depicted a bearded figure crouching over to display his buttocks and genitals."

    The cover of today's Charlie Hebdo. Translation: "Must not laugh."

    The Muslim community has already condemned the photos. Essam Erian, acting head of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, compared the cartoons to the controversy over the leaked nude photos of Kate Middleton.

    "If the case of Kate (the duchess) is a matter of privacy, then the cartoons are an insult to a whole people. The beliefs of others must be respected," he told Reuters.

    As a precaution, the French government has upped security at some embassies in Arab and Muslim countries. On Friday, it will close embassies and schools in 20 nations. Riot police were also sent to protect the magazine's offices in Paris Wednesday morning.

    This isn't the first time Charlie Hebdo has played on Muslim sensitivities. In November 2011, its offices were bombed and its website hacked after releasing a "special edition" guest-edited by Muhammad.

    Getty Images

    Luz with the 2011 issue. Translation: "100 lashes if you are not dying of laughter."

    Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Luz told a CNN affiliate that the 2011 incident inspired the staff to put the offensive cartoons inside the issue this time — not on the cover.

    "We learned our lesson," he said.

    Other European magazines have pulled similar satirical stunts. In 2005, the Danish magazine Jyllands-Posten published a cartoon that spurred riots across the Middle East. More than 100 people died.

    The Dutch cartoon, titled the "Face of Muhammed."