France, a nation sometimes held up as a pioneer in the ideas of liberty, has banned protests over the anti-Islam film, the Innocence of Muslims.
CNN reports that authorities in France would not approve permits for protests this weekend, and added that police are ready and standing by in the event that protesters attempt to organize anyway.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is of the belief that the American-made film that has sparked violence across the Middle East is not France’s problem.
“There is no reason to bring conflicts in our country that do not concern France,” he said.
The anti-American protests over the film began in Egypt and Libya with violence. In Egypt, property was destroyed, but in Libya, several people including the U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, and three others.
Euronews.com reports France hasn’t been free of violence on this issue. More than 150 people were arrested as protests turned ugly near the U.S. Embassy in Paris. France has the largest Islamic community of any Muslim nation and the problems Wednesday likely contributed to the decision to ban further protests.
“I will not allow that fully veiled women, street prayers or hostile slogans against our allies to be heard on our streets, so I will be very firm,” Manuel Valls, the French Interior Minister, said. “Also, these few people shouldn’t be confused with the vast majority of our fellow citizens they are caricaturing Islam as it is practiced in our country.”
A French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, fanned the flames, publishing images of the prophet Mohammed in cartoon form in an issue that hit stand Wednesday. Authorities have stationed extra security at the magazine office.
“In France, we always have the right to write and draw. And if some people are not happy with this, they can sue us, and we can defend ourselves. That’s democracy,” Charlie Hebdo journalist Laurent Leger told CNN. “You don’t throw bombs, you discuss, you debate. But you don’t act violently. We have to stand and resist pressure from extremism.”
France’s decision to ban protest isn’t the only European move related to this story. Germany has banned a controversial pastor with connections to the film from entering their nation.