Anti-American fury sweeps Middle East over film
15 September, 2012
CAIRO: Anti-US protests by crowds whipped into fury by a film that ridicules Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) erupted across the Arab world on Friday, leading to an explosion of violence in Sudan, Yemen and Lebanon.
The protests came after Muslims emerged from mosques in thousands following the weekly Friday prayers to voice their anger at the film.
In Khartoum, around 5,000 protesters stormed the embassies of Britain and Germany, which was torched and badly damaged, an AFP reporter said. Police fired teargas to disperse the protesters as several of them scaled the roof of the German embassy and others attacked its facade and tore down the flag to replace it with a black one, the reporter said. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said staff at Berlin's mission were safe.
"The German embassy in Khartoum is currently the target of attacks by violent demonstrators. The embassy staff are safe. The crisis cell at the foreign ministry (in Berlin) is meeting and is in contact with the embassy," he said in a statement.
In the Yemeni capital Sanaa, security forces fired warning shots and water cannon to disperse crowds of protesters trying to reach the US embassy, an AFP correspondent said.
In the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, a 300-strong crowd attacked and set fire to a KFC restaurant, an AFP correspondent said.
State television showed the crowd streaming out after Friday prayers at Tehran University in which a scholar, Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, blamed the United States for the crude film.
"It is a wonder how those running a country claiming to be a superpower become so stupid in taking such actions," he said.
Hundreds of Afghan protesters took to the streets, setting fire to an effigy of US President Barack Obama and demanding the death of a film-maker who they say insulted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The demonstration passed off peacefully in the district of Ghanikhail in Nangarhar province, which borders Kabul to the west and Pakistan to the east.
Video-sharing website YouTube has blocked access in India to the film, Google said. "We do, at times, block content in response to a court order or other valid legal process. We have blocked access to the YouTube page in the Indian domain," a Google executive, who asked not to be named, told AFP.
At least five protesters were wounded when Tunisian police opened fire on Friday to quell an assault on the US embassy compound in the capital Tunis, a Reuters reporter said. It was not immediately clear if police fired live rounds or rubber bullets. A large fire erupted inside the compound which has been invaded by hundreds of protesters. They smashed windows and set fire to trees. agencies
Meanwhile, in Pakistan, hundreds of people demonstrated in cities around Pakistan on Friday to denounce an anti-Islam movie, with some urging death for the filmmaker and others demanding the expulsion of US diplomats.
Police beefed up security around US missions in the country after violent attacks on American consulates and embassies in Egypt, Libya and Yemen this week, but protests in the country's major cities on Friday passed off largely without incident. In Lahore, Hafiz Saeed, head of the Jamaatud Dawa, led a 500-strong rally against the film.
Saeed urged the government to summon the US ambassador to protest over the film. The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) organised a rally in Karachi, where around 700 party activists and supporters gathered with banners and placards bearing anti-US and anti-Israel slogans. Around 400 protesters rallied in front of Islamabad's Lal Masjid after Friday prayers, following a call from JI.
Separately, hundreds of Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadees workers protested outside the Quetta Press Club. They shouted anti-US slogans. Addressing the protesters, the speakers condemned the anti-Islam video and demanded stern action against the filmmaker.