French schools in up to 20 countries have closed amid fears of a violent backlash against the publication of offensive cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in a French magazine.

A decision was made to close French schools in Egypt as a “precaution” French officials told AFP.

"Although there has been no specific threat in Egypt, it has been decided as a precaution" they added. The schools are due to open again on Sunday, after the Arab weekend on Friday and Saturday.

charlie hebdo

Charlie Hebdo’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier, defended the cartoons, arguing that they “would shock those who want to be shocked”.

The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued advice to French nationals living abroad, urging them countries to exercise caution.

"We advise them not to take any risks and to avoid large gatherings," it added.

In Tunisa, French schools will remain closed until Monday as a “preventative measure” after the president of the former French colony said Muslims have "the right to protest" as long as they do so peacefully. There are around 30,000 French citizens in Tunisa, which observes the Western weekend, unlike many Arab nations.

French magazine Charlie Hebdo printed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday, less than one year after being firebombed for running similar caricatures.

Riot police stood outside the offices on Wednesday and French embassies in 20 Muslim countries closed amid security fears.

There were reports that all 75,000 of the magazine sold out on Wednesday with many of those copies being ripped up on the streets. More copies will be on sale on Thursday.


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The front page of Charlie Hebdo carries the headline “Intouchables 2” with a cartoon underneath showing a rabbi pushing the Prophet in a wheelchair.

The figure being pushed says: "You mustn’t mock."

There are several more cartoons inside, including one showing the Prophet naked.

For Muslims it's not mocking cartoons alone that are deemed highly offensive, but any depictions of the Prophet.

The cartoons were condemned by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who, speaking during a visit to Cairo, told Le Monde that the French Government is "against hostile provocations at this time"

The caricatures follow closely on the heels of widespread violent protests from Muslims against an anti-Islam YouTube film produced in California.

The decision to close schools comes as Paris police banned a demonstration in front of the city's Grand Mosque from taking place on Saturday, AP reported.

France's interior minister decided to ban the protest after a violent demonstration near the U.S. embassy in Paris last weekend.

French political commentator Agnès Poirier told The Huffington Post UK that the French political classes are currently "walking on eggshells".

But she defended the publication of the cartoons.

She said: “I’m in favour of people expressing their opinions.

"The freedom of the press is paramount. It’s not negotiable. Charlie Hebdo has always been quite provocative. It doesn’t pull its punches. The magazine is not anti-Islam. It’s just doing its job of being satirical.

"It also runs anti-Christian cartoons and nobody raises an eyebrow. People who don’t like it shouldn’t buy it."

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  • YEMEN-UNREST-US-FILM-PROTEST

    Yemeni protesters try to break through the gate of the US embassy in Sanaa during a protest over a film mocking Islam on September 13, 2012. Yemeni forces managed to drive out angry protesters who stormed the embassy in the Yemeni capital with police firing warning shots to disperse thousands of people as they approached the main gate of the mission. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED HUWAIS (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • YEMEN-UNREST-US-FILM-PROTEST

    Yemeni protesters try to break through the gate of the US embassy in Sanaa during a protest over a film mocking Islam on September 13, 2012. Yemeni forces managed to drive out angry protesters who stormed the embassy in the Yemeni capita with police firing warning shots to disperse thousands of people as they approached the main gate of the mission. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED HUWAIS (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • YEMEN-UNREST-US-FILM-PROTEST

    A Yemeni protester holds a flag bearing Islamic calligraphy as he stands above the gate of the US embassy in Sanaa during a protest over a film mocking Islam on September 13, 2012. Yemeni forces managed to drive out angry protesters who stormed the embassy in the Yemeni capital with police firing warning shots to disperse thousands of people as they approached the main gate of the mission. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED HUWAIS (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • YEMEN-UNREST-US-FILM-PROTEST

    Yemeni protesters try to break the security camera of the US embassy in Sanaa during a protest over a film mocking Islam on September 13, 2012. Yemeni forces managed to drive out angry protesters who stormed the embassy in the Yemeni capital with police firing warning shots to disperse thousands of people as they approached the main gate of the mission. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED HUWAIS (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • YEMEN-UNREST-US-FILM-PROTEST

    Yemeni protesters gather around fire during a demonstration outside the US embassy in Sanaa over a film mocking Islam on September 13, 2012. Yemeni forces managed to drive out angry protesters who stormed the embassy in the Yemeni capital with police firing warning shots to disperse thousands of people as they approached the main gate of the mission. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED HUWA (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • YEMEN-UNREST-US-FILM-PROTEST

    Yemenis hold a poster reading in Arabic, 'no embassy and no ambassador.. no relations with enemies...' outside the gate of the US embassy in Sanaa during a protest over a film mocking Islam on September 13, 2012. Yemeni forces managed to drive out angry protesters who stormed the embassy in the Yemeni capital with police firing warning shots to disperse thousands of people as they approached the main gate of the mission. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED HUWAIS (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • YEMEN-UNREST-US-FILM-PROTEST

    A Yemeni protester waves a flag bearing Islamic calligraphy outside the gate of the US embassy in Sanaa during a protest over a film mocking Islam on September 13, 2012. Yemeni forces managed to drive out angry protesters who stormed the embassy in the Yemeni capital with police firing warning shots to disperse thousands of people as they approached the main gate of the mission. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED HUWAIS (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • YEMEN-UNREST-US-FILM-PROTEST

    Yemeni protesters try to break through the gate of the US embassy in Sanaa during a protest over a film mocking Islam on September 13, 2012. Yemeni forces managed to drive out angry protesters who stormed the embassy in the Yemeni capital with police firing warning shots to disperse thousands of people as they approached the main gate of the mission. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMMED HUWAIS (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/GettyImages)

  • Yemeni protestors break windows of the U.S. Embassy during a protest about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Dozens of protesters gather in front of the US Embassy in Sanaa to protest against the American film "The Innocence of Muslims" deemed blasphemous and Islamophobic. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

  • Yemeni protestors break windows of the U.S. Embassy during a protest about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Dozens of protesters gather in front of the US Embassy in Sanaa to protest against the American film "The Innocence of Muslims" deemed blasphemous and Islamophobic. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

  • A Yemeni protestor, left, holds a white flag with Islamic inscription in Arabic that reads, "No God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet," in front of the U.S. embassy during a protest about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Dozens of protesters gather in front of the US Embassy in Sanaa to protest against the American film "The Innocence of Muslims" deemed blasphemous and Islamophobic. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

  • Yemeni protestors break a widow of the U.S. Embassy during a protest about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Dozens of protesters gather in front of the US Embassy in Sanaa to protest against the American film "The Innocence of Muslims" deemed blasphemous and Islamophobic. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

  • Yemeni protesters break a window of the U.S. Embassy during a protest about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Dozens of protesters gather in front of the US Embassy in Sanaa to protest against the American film "The Innocence of Muslims" deemed blasphemous and Islamophobic. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

  • Yemenis protest in front fo the U.S. Embassy about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Dozens of protesters gather in front of the US Embassy in Sanaa to protest against the American film "The Innocence of Muslims" deemed blasphemous and Islamophobic. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

  • Yemenis protest in front of the U.S. Embassy about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Dozens of protesters gather in front of the US Embassy in Sanaa to protest against the American film "The Innocence of Muslims" deemed blasphemous and Islamophobic. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

  • Yemeni protestors break a door of the U.S. Embassy during a protest about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Dozens of protesters gather in front of the US Embassy in Sanaa to protest against the American film "The Innocence of Muslims" deemed blasphemous and Islamophobic. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

  • Yemeni protestors climb the gate of the U.S. Embassy during a protest about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Dozens of protesters gather in front of the US Embassy in Sanaa to protest against the American film "The Innocence of Muslims" deemed blasphemous and Islamophobic. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

  • Yemeni protestors climb the gate of the U.S. Embassy during a protest about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Dozens of protesters gather in front of the US Embassy in Sanaa to protest against the American film "The Innocence of Muslims" deemed blasphemous and Islamophobic. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

  • Yemenis protest in front of the U.S. Embassy about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad, in Sanaa, Yemen, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Dozens of protesters gather in front of the US Embassy in Sanaa to protest against the American film "The Innocence of Muslims" deemed blasphemous and Islamophobic. (AP Photo/Hani Mohammed)

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  • An Egyptian protester throws back a tear gas canister toward riot police, unseen, outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Tens were injured in clashes in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, the state TV reported on Thursday, quoting Egypt's Health Ministry. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • An Egyptian protester throws back a tear gas canister toward riot police, unseen, outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Tens were injured in clashes in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, the state TV reported on Thursday, quoting Egypt's Health Ministry. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian protesters burn tires as they clash with riot police, unseen, outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, early Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Hussein Tallal)

  • Egyptian protesters run during clashes with riot police, background, outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Tens were injured in clashes in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, the state TV reported on Thursday, quoting Egypt's Health Ministry. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian protesters burn tires as they clash with riot police, unseen, outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, early Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Hussein Tallal)

  • An Egyptian protester throws back a tear gas canister toward riot police, unseen, outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. At least 30 people were injured in clashes in front of the U.S. embassy in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, the state TV reported on Thursday, quoting Egypt's Health Ministry. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian protesters burn tires as they clash with riot police, unseen, outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, early Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Hussein Tallal)

  • An Egyptian protester throws back a tear gas canister toward riot police, unseen, outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. At least 30 people were injured in clashes in front of the U.S. embassy in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, the state TV reported on Thursday, quoting Egypt's Health Ministry. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • An Egyptian protester runs during clashes with riot police, background, outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. At least 30 people were injured in clashes in front of the U.S. embassy in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, the state TV reported on Thursday, quoting Egypt's Health Ministry. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • An Egyptian protester throws back a tear gas canister toward riot police, unseen, outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. At least 30 people were injured in clashes in front of the U.S. embassy in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, the state TV reported on Thursday, quoting Egypt's Health Ministry. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian protesters throw rocks during clashes with riot police, background, outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Tens were injured in clashes in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, the state TV reported on Thursday, quoting Egypt's Health Ministry. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian protesters clash with riot police, unseen, outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Tens were injured in clashes in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, the state TV reported on Thursday, quoting Egypt's Health Ministry. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian protesters throw rocks during clashes with riot police, background, outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Tens were injured in clashes in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, the state TV reported on Thursday, quoting Egypt's Health Ministry. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian protesters throw rocks during clashes with riot police, background, outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Tens were injured in clashes in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, the state TV reported on Thursday, quoting Egypt's Health Ministry. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian protesters clash with riot police, unseen, outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. At least 30 people were injured in clashes in front of the U.S. embassy in the Egyptian capital of Cairo, the state TV reported on Thursday, quoting Egypt's Health Ministry. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • A vehicle burns during clashes outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, early Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Hussein Tallal)

  • A riot policeman passes burning vehicles during clashes outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, early Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Hussein Tallal)

  • Protesters clash with police in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, early Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.(AP Photo/Mohammed Abu Zaid)

  • Smoke from tear gas fired by riot police fills the street to disperse protesters gathered in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt ,Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.(AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

  • A riot policeman passes burning vehicles during clashes outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, early Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Hussein Tallal)

  • Protesters clash with police in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, early Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.(AP Photo/Mohammed Abu Zaid)

  • A policeman stands in front of a police car set on fire by protesters in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, during clashes between protesters and police earlyThursday, Sept. 13, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.(AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

  • A protester sets a tire on fire during clashes with police in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, early Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.(AP Photo/Mohammed Abu Zaid)

  • A riot policeman passes a burning vehicle during clashes outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, early Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Hussein Talal)

  • Protesters run through tear gas as they clash with police in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, early Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.(AP Photo/Mohammed Abu Zaid)

  • Protesters clash with police in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, early Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.(AP Photo/Mohammed Abu Zaid)

  • An Egyptian protester holds tear gas canisters fired during clashes between Egyptian police and protesters in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt ,Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.(AP Photo/Ahmed Gomaa)

  • An Egyptian protester carries an anti-U.S. banner that reads in Arabic, "men who defeated the Americans," during a demonstration in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian protesters chant anti-U.S. slogans during a demonstration in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.(AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian protesters carry their national flag and a flag with Arabic that reads "No God but Allah, and Mohammed is his prophet," and chant anti U.S. slogans during a demonstration in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian protesters carry flags with Arabic that reads "No God but Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet," and chant anti U.S. slogans during a demonstration in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.(AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian protesters burn a U.S. flag and chant anti U.S. slogans during a demonstration in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad.(AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian protesters carry anti U.S. banners and chant anti U.S. slogans while they lineup by the walls of the U.S. embassy, background left, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • CORRECTS NATIONALITY OF FILMMAKER - An Egyptian soldier stands guard in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. A man identifying himself as Sam Bacile, a 56-year-old California real estate developer, said he wrote, produced and directed the movie. He told the AP he was an Israeli Jew and an American citizen. But Israeli officials said they had not heard of Bacile and there was no record of him being a citizen. Arabic on the wall reads, "anyone but God's prophet." (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian protesters carry anti U.S. banners while they lineup by the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Arabic on the center banner reads "the United Nations ignore the killing of Muslims, nuclear weapons, internet and media channels are used to kill the principles and ethics, leadership is not about the numbers of bombs and soldiers or supporting Israel with no religious word." (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian riot police secure the walls of the U.S. embassy during an anti U.S. demonstration in front of it in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. The graffiti on the wall reads, "anyone but God's Prophet."(AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

  • Egyptian protesters attend Muslims evening prayers during a demonstration in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. Arabic graffiti on the wall reads "there is one God, we will live with dignity," and "anyone but God's prophet." (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)