CNN | Reuters | Associated Press
French embassies and schools in 20 countries will be closed Friday, the country's government announced after the French humor magazine Charlie Hebdo printed cartoons, some of them crude, depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Many Muslims believe Muhammad should not be visually represented.

Charlie Hebdo's website is down, so I can't see the cover, but a Reuters report says it:

showed an Orthodox Jew pushing a turbaned figure in a wheelchair and several caricatures of the Prophet were included on its inside pages, including some of him naked.


Charlie Hebdo Editor Stephane Charbonnier told a French TV station his magazine lampoons the news of the week, which for this cycle, obviously, includes the derogatory film about Muhammad made by some Americans. "It's more turning in derision this grotesque film than to make fun of Mohammad," Charbonnier said.

In CNN's video report, Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Luz says controversy over the cartoons is "just a big deal built by the media." Correspondent Jim Bitterman characterizes the magazine's arguments thus: "A: It's freedom of the press; and B: You don't have to buy the magazine." The cartoons, he notes, aren't on the magazine's cover.

Charlie Hebdo has published cartoons of Muhammad at least twice before, once reprinting the Danish cartoons that caused so much trouble in 2005 and last year putting a drawing of Muhammad on the cover of the magazine with the legend "100 lashes if you don't die of laughter." (CNN translates this more literally.) The magazine's offices were firebombed. French police are currently guarding the magazine's offices.

In 2011, The Daily Beast put together a photo gallery of the "12 Most Shocking Charlie Hebdo Covers," including one showing Michael Jackson's skeleton with the coverline "Finally white."

The Associated Press quotes French foreign minister Laurent Fabius as saying Charlie Hebdo could be throwing "oil on the fire."

Related: Egyptian prosecutor charges American makers of anti-Islamic video with insulting Islam (CNN) | Anti-Islam ads will appear in New York subways starting next week (The New York Times)