Scores denounce Charlie Hebdo cartoons in Iraq capital

Baghdad (AFP) –


Scores protested outside the French embassy in Iraq's capital Baghdad on Thursday to condemn Paris-based magazine Charlie Hebdo's decision to republish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

The satirical weekly reprinted the controversial images to mark the start of the trial earlier this month of alleged accomplices to a massacre at its headquarters over five years ago.

Twelve people, including some of France's most celebrated cartoonists, were killed on January 7, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi went on a gun rampage at the paper's offices in Paris.

Images of the prophet are banned in Islam.

On Thursday, around 150 protesters including women and children gathered at the gates of the French embassy in east Baghdad to protest against the republication.

"We denounce the repeated insults from the French media against our prophet," read one banner, in Arabic.

Iraqi security forces carrying riot shields were deployed in large numbers at the embassy gates, but the protest lasted less than half an hour and remained peaceful.

But diplomatic missions in Iraq have faced a slew of armed attacks in recent weeks.

Late Monday, two Katyusha rockets were fired at the US embassy in the high-security Green Zone, on the opposite bank of the Tigris from the French embassy.

The embassy's C-RAM rocket defence system shot both down, security sources told AFP.

Hours later, an improvised explosive device targeted a British embassy vehicle returning from Baghdad airport.