France banned protests on Friday against cartoons published by a satirical weekly denigrating Islam’s Prophet Mohammad as part of a security clamp-down while prayers took place across the Muslim world.
The country’s Muslim population, drawn largely from ex-colonies in North and West Africa, shrugged off the controversy as imams in mosques denounced the pictures but urged their followers to remain calm.
The drawings have stoked a furore over an anti-Islam film made in California that has provoked sometimes violent protests in several Muslim countries, including attacks on U.S. and other Western embassies, the killing of the U.S. envoy to Libya and a suicide bombing in Afghanistan.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls said prefects had orders to prohibit any protest and to crack down if the ban was challenged. “There will be strictly no exceptions. Demonstrations will be banned and broken up,” he told a news conference in the southern port city of Marseille.