French Jewish Leaders Condemn Release of New Mohammed Cartoons

Umbrella group CRIF calls timing of French weekly Charlie Hebdo's publication of the provocative illustrations ‘irresponsible.’

The president of the representative body of France's Jewish communities condemned the new publication of caricatures of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.

The publication Wednesday of the caricatures in the French weekly Charlie Hebdo "in the current context" is "irresponsible," Dr. Richard Prasquier, the president of CRIF, the umbrella Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions, said in a statement.

The weekly published the caricatures in a defiant move that it said was meant to celebrate freedom of speech after deadly riots that broke out in Muslim countries over the recent release of an anti-Islam film titled "Innocence of Muslims."

The front-page cartoon of Charlie Hebdo showed a Haredi Jew and a Muslim saying "No mocking." It was titled "Untouchables 2," a reference to a French film.

"Considering the fatalities [in riots connected with the film], we disapprove of the initiative of Charlie Hebdo," Prasquier said. "The critics of religion must themselves heed criticism - not of their principles but of the timing of their actions."

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticized the publication as a provocation and said he had ordered security beefed up at French diplomatic offices in the Muslim world.

Charlie Hebdo's Paris offices were firebombed last November after it published a mocking caricature of Mohammed.

More than 30 people have been killed in the violent backlash over a 14-minute YouTube trailer for "Innocence of Muslims," which was believed to have been produced by a small group of extremist Christians in the United States.

In 2005, Danish cartoons of Mohammed sparked a wave of violent protests across the Muslim world that killed at least 50.