France was bracing Thursday for a backlash after a French magazine published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, fuelling the flames of protest in the Muslim world over a US-made anti-Islam film.
Paris said that on Friday, the Muslim day of prayer, it would its shutter diplomatic missions, cultural centres and French schools in around 20 Muslim countries for fear of violent protests.
As senior officials and Muslim leaders appealed for calm, the French mission in Tunisia was closed on Wednesday, while its Egyptian mission was to shut its doors temporarily on Thursday.
More than 30 people have been killed in attacks and violent protests linked to the film "Innocence of Muslims", including 12 people who died in an attack by a female suicide bomber in Afghanistan on Tuesday.
Lebanese Hezbollah supporters carry signs reading: "United States is enemy of people, enemy of humanity and enemy of religions" during a demonstration in Tyre on September 19, 2012 against a US-made film and French cartoons mocking Islam. France is bracing Thursday for a backlash after a French magazine published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed
The crudely made film -- which was produced by US-based extremist Christians and depicts the Prophet as a thuggish womaniser -- has triggered protests in at least 20 countries since excerpts were posted online.
In reaction to the uproar, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo published cartoons mocking the film and caricaturing the Muslim prophet, including two drawings showing him naked.
The magazine's website was swiftly put out of action by a cyber-attack and riot police were deployed outside the magazine's Paris offices.
In Pakistan, around 1,000 students from the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party took to the streets in the eastern city of Lahore on Wednesday, chanting anti-US slogans and burning the American flag.
A similar number demonstrated in Karachi, while in Islamabad around 500 lawyers burst into the capital's diplomatic enclave, chanting anti-American slogans and castigating the government for not taking strong action.
The Pakistan government declared Friday a national holiday in honour of the Prophet Mohammed, in a sudden announcement made after religious parties had called for a day of protest.
In neighbouring Afghanistan, about 1,000 protesters took to the streets while Indonesia saw hundreds of protesters tear up the American flag and throw eggs at the US embassy in the capital Jakarta.
In Lebanon, gunmen opened fire on a KFC fast-food restaurant, just days after another outlet of the US chain was torched and a demonstrator killed in a protest over the film.
The rector of Paris's Great Mosque has said a message will be read out to worshipers in all mosques under their jurisdiction concerning the tensions raised after a French satirical magazine published nude cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. Duration: 01:05
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has called for a string of protests all week in Lebanon.
Muslims in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka also staged their first demonstration on Wednesday, with hundreds gathering in the capital Colombo near the US embassy.
Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest authority, condemned the publication of the cartoons, while the Vatican's official daily Osservatore Romano said the satirical images could throw "fuel on the fire".
Charlie Hebdo's editor, Stephane Charbonnier, described those getting irate over the cartoons as "ridiculous clowns" and accused the government of pandering to them by criticising him for being provocative.
The left-wing publication's offices were firebombed last year after it published an edition "guest-edited by Mohammed" that it called Sharia Hebdo.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said anyone offended by the cartoons could go to court, but he also stressed that in France "freedom of expression is guaranteed, including the freedom to caricature".
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said he feared a backlash over the cartoons and announced Friday's embassy and school closures.
An Indian Muslim student hits a burning effigy of US President Barack Obama during a protest against an anti-Islam movie in Kolkata.
Meanwhile, an actress in the anti-Islamic film trailer that set off the violent protests is suing its reputed producer, saying he duped her into thinking it was about ancient Egyptians.
Cindy Lee Garcia is one of three actresses in the film to have come forward with similar accusations since the explosion of violence in Muslim countries.
She is targeting Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old Egyptian Copt and convicted fraudster -- out on parole -- who lives in Los Angeles and has admitted to working on the film.
US media say Nakoula wrote and produced the film, under the pseudonym Sam Bacile before being identified. He was questioned by police last week before going into hiding with his family.
"Mr. Bacile represented to her that the film was indeed an adventure film about ancient Egyptians," the suit states, adding that the actress has received death threats.
A man reads the back cover of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris. French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said anyone offended by the cartoons could go to court, but he also stressed that in France "freedom of expression is guaranteed, including the freedom to caricature".
Leaders of the Muslim community in France -- the largest in western Europe -- said an appeal for calm would be read in mosques across the country on Friday but also condemned the weekly magazine for publishing "insulting" images.
Germany, whose Sudan embassy was torched in the wave of protests, advised its citizens to avoid public gatherings in many Arab countries on Friday.
Washington has also moved to boost security, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying the United States was taking "aggressive steps" to protect diplomatic missions worldwide.
Among those killed in the protests so far have been four US diplomatic staff in Libya, including ambassador Chris Stevens.