TUNIS (AFP) - French schools in Tunisia closed for four days on Wednesday and the embassy requested extra security, after the publication in France of cartoons the ruling Islamists branded a “new attack” on the holy Prophet.Tunisia’s Ennahda party said Muslims have “the right to protest” against the publication of the cartoons mocking the Prophet, as long as they do so peacefully.“Ennahda backs the right of Muslims to protest and calls on the use of peaceful and civilised means,” the Islamist party that leads the governing coalition in Tunis said in a statement.It branded French weekly Charlie Hebdo’s publication of cartoons of the holy Prophet as “a new attack against Islam.”Amid heightened security concerns, the French embassy announced the temporary closure of French schools in the former colony, said it had requested extra security around the mission and appealed for vigilance.The controversial images published on Wednesday come against a background of violent protests across the Muslim world, which first erupted early last week over an anti-Islam film made in California and posted on the Internet.“In the current context, the French community is urged to be vigilant, to avoid all public gatherings and to stay away from sensitive areas,” the embassy said. “The French school network and Tunisia’s French Institute will be closed from midday on Wednesday... until Monday morning.”“The embassy has asked the relevant Tunisian authorities to strengthen security around its sites,” it said, adding that the mission would stay closed on Friday, when Islamist protests following weekly prayers are common.There are an estimated 30,000 French citizens living in Tunisia and around 3,000 French children enrolled in Tunisian schools.Also on Wednesday, US ambassador Jacob Walles met Premiere Hamadi Jebali and asked him to guarantee the security of US interests in the country, amid strong criticism of the security forces for their handling of Friday’s protest.Tunisia’s Interior Minister, Ali Larayedh, was questioned by the National Constituent Assembly over the response to Friday’s unrest, amid calls for him to quit by numerous opposition MPs.In Paris, police were deployed outside the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine which printed the cartoon series.Leaders of the large Muslim community in France said an appeal for calm would be read out in mosques across the country on Friday but also condemned the magazine for publishing “insulting” images.The Arab League called the cartoons “provocative and outrageous”. It said in a statement that they could increase the volatile situation in the Arab and Islamic worlds since the release of the film. The League appealed to Muslims offended by the cartoons to “use peaceful means to express their firm rejection.”The acting head of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, Essam Erian, said the French judiciary should deal with the issue as firmly as it had handled the case against the magazine which published topless pictures of Britain’s Duchess of Cambridge. “If the case of Kate is a matter of privacy, then the cartoons are an insult to a whole people. The beliefs of others must be respected,” he said.Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar institution denounced the cartoons as “spiteful trivialities which promote hatred in the name of freedom”.The White House on Wednesday questioned the judgment of the French weekly, but said the decision was no justification for violence. “We have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said, while adding “it is not in any way justification for violence.”