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France’s foreign ministry issues safety advice to its citizens in Bangladesh

Dhaka: France has warned its citizens living or travelling to several Muslim-majority countries to take extra security precautions on Tuesday as anger surged over cartoons of Prophet Mohammad.

In a sign that some countries want to limit the fallout, Saudi Arabia condemned the cartoons but held back from echoing calls by other Muslim states for a boycott of French products or other actions.

The row has its roots in a knife attack outside a French school on October 16 in which a man of Chechen origin beheaded Samuel Paty, a teacher who had shown pupils cartoons of Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson on freedom of speech. The caricatures are considered blasphemous by Muslims.

France’s foreign ministry on Tuesday issued safety advice to French citizens in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Iraq and Mauritania, advising them to exercise caution. They should stay away from any protests over the cartoons and avoid any public gatherings.

“It is recommended to exercise the greatest vigilance, especially while travelling, and in places that are frequented by tourists or expatriate communities,” it said.

The French embassy in Turkey issued similar advice to its citizens there.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has been one of the most vociferous critics of the French government, leading calls for a boycott of French goods.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin retorted on Tuesday that Turkey, and Pakistan, should not meddle in France’s domestic affairs.

Paris has recalled its ambassador in Ankara, and Pakistan’s parliament on Monday passed a resolution urging the government to recall its envoy from Paris.

The images of the Prophet were first published years ago by a French satirical magazine, whose editorial offices were attacked in 2015 by gunmen who killed 12 people.

Since the beheading of the teacher Paty this month, the cartoons have been displayed in France in solidarity, angering some Muslims.

President Emmanuel Macron, who met representatives of France’s Muslim community on Monday, has pledged to fight “Islamist separatism”, saying it was threatening to take over some Muslim communities in France.

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