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Anti-American Protests Flare in Muslim Countries
Roiled by denigration of Islam and US policies, popular anger takes hold
Protest and popular anger raged in streets in many Muslim-majority countries on Friday. The anti-American sentiment exhibited across the globe has been fueled by disgust at an anti-Islamic film produced in the United States and follows already tense and violent days in Cairo, Benghazi, and elsewhere.
US, British, and even German embassy buildings were the focus of public ire in Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, and other countries following the conclusion of traditional Friday prayers.
Clashes between security personnel and protesters in those countries saw tear gas, water cannons, and rubber bullets matched by thrown rocks and molotov cocktails.
Events related to the film earlier this week led to the death of four US government officials, including US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, in Libya. On Friday, CNN confirmed that some arrests had been made in Benghazi, but it was unclear whether those detained were directly or perhaps only indirectly involved with the deaths.
"Four men are in custody and we are interrogating them because they are suspected of helping instigate the events at the U.S. consulate," Wanis el-Sharef, eastern Libya's deputy interior minister, told Reuters.
In the ongoing US presidential race, the Obama and Romney campaigns continued to trade arguments over the film's message and the manner in which the White House and US State Dept. have tried to deal with the growing tension.
From Cairo, Egypt:
(Agence France-Presse): Fresh clashes between police and protesters, angry over a film apparently made in the United States that mocks Islam, erupted on Friday outside the US embassy in Cairo, an AFP reporter said.
The protesters, many in their teens and moving around in small clusters, pelted police with stones who responded by firing tear gas.
Roads leading up to the embassy in central Cairo were littered with stones and rocks.
Protesters shuttle between the streets surrounding the embassy and Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Cairo protests.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest political group and on whose ticket President Mohamed Morsi ran, has called for "peaceful protests" outside mosques across the country after the noon prayer.
From Benghazi, Libya:
(Al-Jazeera): AJ's Hoda Abdel Hamid, reporting from Benghazi, said: "There is a lot of tension in Benghazi people are confused, they want to protest, but after what took at the US consulate, people are apprehensive, Libyan authorities still believe it was a planned attack at the embassy".
From Sana'a, Yemen:
(New York Times): In Yemen, baton-wielding security forces backed by water cannons blocked streets near the American Embassy a day after protesters breached the outer security perimeter there and officials said two people were killed in clashes with the police. Still, a group of several dozen protesters gathered near the diplomatic post, carrying placards and shouting slogans.
From Tunis, Tunisia:
(The Guardian): Protesters entered the compound of the US embassy in Tunis and started fires. There have been reports of gunfire and teargas.
In the latest development, the American school in Tunis – which was closed today – has reportedly been set on fire.
From Khartoum, Sudan:
(Al-Jazeera): In Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, protesters broke into the US embassy grounds. Earlier, they had stormed the UK and German embassies.
Al Jazeera's Harriet Martin, reporting from Khartoum, said: "I have seen buses going past towards the US embassy in Khartoum, with riot police also following."
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(Der Speigel): News agency reports stated that as many as 5,000 protesters had turned up at the scene. As they stormed the embassy, the protesters reportedly pulled down the German flag and raised one in its place bearing the phrase "There is no God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet."
Hundreds of demonstrators also protested outside the US Embassy in Khartoum, where there were heavy clashes with security forces. According to the news station Al-Arabiya, one demonstrator died when police fired tear gas into the crowd in front of the US Embassy.
From Tripoli, Lebanon:
(The Daily Star): One protester was killed and 15 policemen were injured when stick-wielding and stone-throwing demonstrators protesting an anti-Islam film clashed with Lebanese security in the northern city of Tripoli Friday.
The fatality was identified as Mohammad Ayyoushi.
Some 1,000 demonstrators marched from Tripoli’s Al-Mansouri Mosque to nearby Nour Square following Friday prayers, shouting slogans against the U.S. and Pope Benedict XVI, who began a three-day visit to Lebanon.
They tore down posters and banners welcoming the pope that had been put in place by Saad Hariri’s Future Movement.
The demonstrators ignored warning shots fired by police, and tried unsuccessfully to make their way to the Tripoli Serail, which is close to Nour Square, hurling stones at policemen blocking their path. Some demonstrators also beat policemen with wooden and steel sticks.
Finding themselves unable to storm the Serail, the protesters headed some 500 meters down the road to a KFC/Hardee's outlet, setting the establishment on fire. They also set four delivery mopeds ablaze.
From West Bank and Gaza Strip:
(Ma'an News Agency): Hundreds of protesters gathered in Jerusalem's Old City and the Gaza Strip on Friday, as regional protests continued against an anti-Islam video produced in the US.
Around 400 protesters left Friday prayers in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque and tried to march towards the US consulate, Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said.
Israeli forces prevented protesters reaching the consulate, blocking the rally at Damascus Gate using stun grenades. Four people were detained, Rosenfeld told Ma'an.
Hundreds gathered in cities across the Gaza Strip on Friday, after Hamas and Islamic Jihad called for demonstrations against the video for its insult to the prophet.
Jihad leader Abu Tariq al-Mdalal said the protests "send a message to the whole world condemning this attack against our prophet... we call on the Arab world to use all its abilities to respond to this attack, and to close the (Israeli) and US embassies."
From Jalalabad, Afghanistan:
(Associated Press): Hundreds of Afghans — some shouting ‘‘Death to America’’ — burned the U.S. flag and an effigy of President Barack Obama on Friday during a protest against an anti-Islam film outside the eastern city of Jalalabad. [...]
Mohammad Zhirullah, a protester who spoke to The Associated Press on the phone from the site, said the crowd called on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sever relations with the United States.
‘‘When the movie was shown around the world, it broke the heart of every Muslim,’’ Zhirullah said. ‘‘We condemn this act and those who are behind it should be put on trial and should be hanged to death. ... It cannot be tolerated by the Afghan people.’’
From Islamabad, Pakistan:
(Associated Press): Hundreds of hardline Muslims held peaceful protests against the film throughout Pakistan, shouting slogans and carrying banners criticizing the U.S. and those involved in the film.
Police in Islamabad set up barricades and razor wire to prevent protesters from getting to the diplomatic enclave, where the U.S. Embassy and many other foreign missions are located. Protests were also held in Karachi, Peshawar and Lahore, where protesters shouted "Down with America" and some burned the U.S. flag. About 200 policemen and barbed wire ringed the U.S. Consulate in Lahore.
About 1,500 protest in the eastern city of Jalalabad, shouting "Death to America" and urge President Hamid Karzai to cut relations with the U.S.
(The Guardian): Mona Mahmood has been talking on the phone with Dagher al-Mousawi of the Jihad and Construction movement in Basra, about today's demonstration. This is what he told her:
More than 3,000 people took part in a protest today at 9am. The protest aimed at showing the anger of people in Basra towards the anti-Prophet film. Most of the religious parties, Sunni and Shia, tribal leaders and independents, marched from the centre of Basra towards the governor's building.
The protesters had a single demand: the US administration should not allow such films against the Prophet under the pretext of freedom of speech.
Such acts will provoke billions of Muslims all over the world and you cannot tell what will be their reaction, it is a pity that there are people in the west who do not stop directing insults to the Prophet – once by cartoons or burning the holy Qur'an and now by this despicable film.
People are so angry but we do not accept the attack against the US embassy in Libya and the killing of the ambassador.