French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, a decision criticised by the French authorities, which sent riot police to protect the magazine's offices.

The magazine's front cover showed an Orthodox Jew pushing a turbaned figure in a wheelchair and several caricatures of the Prophet were included on its inside pages, including some of him naked.

The publication comes after widespread outrage over an anti-Muslim film posted on the internet.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticised Charlie Hebdo's decision as a provocation and said he had ordered security increased at French diplomatic offices in the Muslim world.

French Embassies and schools in 20 countries will be shut on Friday over fears of unrest.

Charlie Hebdo's Paris offices were fire bombed last November after it published a mocking caricature of Muhammad.

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