Huffpost WorldPost

Anti-Islam Film Protests Spread To Sudan, Tunisia, Across Middle East

Posted: Updated:

CAIRO — Fury over an anti-Islam film spread across the Muslim world Friday, with deadly clashes near Western embassies in Tunisia and Sudan, an American fast-food restaurant set ablaze in Lebanon, and international peacekeepers attacked in the Sinai despite an appeal for calm from Egypt's Islamist president.

At least four people – all protesters – were killed and dozens were wounded in the demonstrations in more than 20 countries from the Middle East to Southeast Asia. Most were peaceful but they turned violent in several nations, presenting challenges for the leaders who came to power in the Arab Spring.

Security forces worked to rein in the anti-American crowds but appeared to struggle in doing so. Police in Cairo prevented stone-throwing protesters from getting near the U.S. Embassy, firing tear gas and deploying armored vehicles in a fourth day of clashes in the Egyptian capital. One person died there after being shot by rubber bullets.

The State Department said U.S. Embassy personnel were reported to be safe in Tunisia, Sudan and Yemen – sites of Friday's violent demonstrations.

President Barack Obama said Washington would "stand fast" against attacks on U.S. embassies around the world. He spoke at a somber ceremony paying tribute to four Americans – including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens – killed earlier this week when the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was stormed by militants who may have used protests of the anti-Muslim film to stage an assault on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

An elite Marine rapid response team arrived in Yemen's capital of Saana, where local security forces shot live rounds in the air and fired tear gas at a crowd of an estimated 2,000 protesters who were kept about a block away from the U.S. Embassy, which protesters broke into the day before.

In east Jerusalem, Israeli police stopped a crowd of about 400 Palestinians from marching on the U.S. Consulate to protest the film. Demonstrators threw bottles and stones at police, who responded by firing stun grenades. Four protesters were arrested.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton had tried to pre-empt the violence a day earlier by saying the rage and violence aimed at American diplomatic missions was prompted by "an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with."

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi went on national TV and appealed to Muslims not to attack embassies. It was his first public move to restrain protesters after days of near silence and appeared aimed at easing tensions with the United States.

The United Nations Security Council released a press statement late Friday condemning "in the strongest terms" the violence, saying "the very nature of diplomatic premises is peaceful and ... diplomats have among their core functions the promotion of better understanding across countries and cultures."

But the demonstrators came out after weekly Friday prayers. Many clerics in their mosque sermons urged congregations to defend their faith, denouncing the obscure movie "Innocence of Muslims" that was produced in the United States that denigrated the Prophet Muhammad.

In addition to countries where protests have occurred, U.S. embassies around the world, including in France and Austria, issued alerts Friday advising Americans to review their personal security measures and warning them that demonstrations may occur and may turn violent. Other embassies issuing alerts included Mauritania and India. More than 50 U.S. embassies and consulates had released similar alerts Thursday.

Several thousand people battled with Tunisian security forces outside the U.S. Embassy in Tunis. Protesters rained stones on police firing tear gas and shooting into the air. Some protesters scaled the embassy wall and stood on top of it, planting the Islamist flag that has become a symbol of the wave of protests: A black banner with the Islamic profession of faith, "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet."

Police chased them off the wall and took the flag down. Two protesters were killed and 29 people were wounded, including police.

Protesters also set fire to the American School adjacent to the embassy compound and prevented firefighters from approaching it. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the school in Tunis was badly damaged and is now "unusable."

The heaviest violence came in Khartoum, Sudan, where a prominent sheik on state radio urged protesters to march on the German Embassy to protest alleged anti-Muslim graffiti on mosques in Berlin and then to the U.S. Embassy to protest the film.

"America has long been an enemy to Islam and to Sudan," Sheik Mohammed Jizouly said.

On Friday night, a U.S. official said an elite Marine rapid response team was headed to Sudan. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the deployment was not made public.

Soon after, several hundred Sudanese stormed into the German Embassy, setting part of a building aflame along with trash bins and a car. Protesters celebrated around the burning barrels as black smoke billowed into the sky until police firing tear gas drove them out of the compound. Some then began to demonstrate outside the neighboring British Embassy.

Several thousand then moved via a convoy of buses to the U.S. Embassy on Khartoum's outskirts. They clashed with Sudanese police, who fired on some who tried to scale the compound's wall.

The police then dispersed the crowd with tear gas, starting a stampede. Witnesses reported seeing three protesters motionless on the ground, although there was no immediate word whether they were dead or alive.

Islamic militants waving black banners and shouting "God is great!" stormed an international peacekeepers' base in Egypt's Sinai and battled troops, wounding four Colombians, said a senior official with the multinational force. The base near the border with Gaza and Israel houses some 1,500 members of the force, including U.S. troops.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press, said it appeared the attack was connected to the wider protests in the region.

One protester was killed in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli in clashes with security forces after a crowd set fire to a KFC and a Hardee's restaurant. Protesters hurled stones and glass at police in a furious melee that left 25 people injured, 18 of them police.

In his bid to head off the violence, Egypt's Morsi said "it is required by our religion to protect our guests and their homes and places of work."

He called the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya unacceptable in Islam. "To God, attacking a person is bigger than an attack on the Kaaba," he said, referring to Islam's holiest site in Mecca.

Morsi's speech came after Obama spoke with him by telephone. The Obama administration has been angered by Morsi's slow response to the attack Tuesday night on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, and the Egyptian made little more than vague statements about it for days without an outright condemnation of the security breach, in which police did nothing to stop protesters from climbing the embassy walls.

His silence reflected the heavy pressure that Morsi, a longtime figure from the Muslim Brotherhood, faces from Egypt's powerful ultraconservative Islamists. They are using the film issue to boost their own political prominence while challenging Morsi's religious credentials.

Leaders of Egypt's Jihad group, a former militant organization, held a conference in the Egyptian city of Alexandria and said anyone involved in "defamation" of the prophet should be killed. They called on Morsi to cut relations with U.S.

Several hundred people, mainly ultraconservatives, protested in Cairo's Tahrir Square and tore up an American flag. A firebrand ultraconservative Salafi cleric criticized the film in his sermon, saying Muslims must defend Islam and its prophet.

"With our soul, our blood, we will avenge you, our prophet," they chanted as police fired volleys of tear gas.

Soldiers opened fire to drive away young Muslims in the central Nigerian city of Jos, witnesses and authorities said, and demonstrators in the county's Muslim north burned a U.S. flag.

Hundreds of hard-line 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.

About 1,500 protesters in Afghanistan's eastern city of Jalalabad shouted "Death to America" and urged President Hamid Karzai to cut relations with the U.S.

___

Additional reporting by Ahmed Al-Haj in Sanaa, Yemen; Bouazza Ben Bouazza in Tunis; Mohamed Osman in Khartoum, Sudan; Elizabeth A. Kennedy in Beirut; and Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem.

Egypt's Prime Minister Hesham Kandil told CNN that some people involved in the recent protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo were paid to protest. He also said that some were there on their own accord, though.

For more on his comments, click here.

Share this:

Both Libyans and "foreigners" carried out the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens, said Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf.

"We have assumptions and we have some information, and all that information we have now leads to the same direction about the perpetrators, the criminals," he told NBC.

For more on Magariaf's comments, click here.

Share this:

A local security official walked CNN through the horrific attacks in Libya that left U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens dead. Read the report here.

Share this:
@ JomanaCNN : One senior official just told me they have no evidence yet to support President's statements that attack was pre-planned. #Libya

Share this:

From the AP:

WASHINGTON — The State Department on Saturday ordered the departure of all family members and non-essential U.S. government personnel from posts in Sudan and Tunisia and is issuing travel warnings to American citizens in the two countries due to security concerns over anti-American violence.

"Given the security situation in Tunis and Khartoum, the State Department has ordered the departure of all family members and non-emergency personnel from both posts, and issued parallel travel warnings to American citizens," said Victoria Nuland, a department spokeswoman.

To read more, click here.

Share this:
anti islam film

In this image from video provided by CBS2-KCAL9, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man behind the anti-Muslim movie that has inflamed the Middle East, is escorted by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies from his home, early Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Cerritos, Calif. Nakoula, 55, was interviewed by federal probation officers at a Los Angeles sheriff's station but was not arrested or detained, authorities said early Saturday. (AP Photo/CBS2-KCAL9)

Share this:
camp bastion

This image from AP video obtained from the SITE Intel Group posted by al-Emarah Jihadi Studio, an Afghan Taliban media unit who released two clips on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, purports to show smoke rising over Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, after what the Taliban media unit says is an attack at the base. (AP Photo/SITE Intelligence Group)

Share this:

According to an AFP report, a far-right group in Germany wants to screen 'Innocence of Muslims,' the film that sparked protests around the world, in Berlin.

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich told Der Spiegel he would use every legal means at his disposal to stop them.

“Such groups and organizations only want to provoke Germany’s Muslims,” he said, accusing them of recklessly pouring oil on the fire.

Read the full story here.

Share this:
libya attack

President Mohammed el-Megarif, fourth right, meets an unidentified Libyan guard of the U.S. Consulate who was wounded following the deadly attack on September 11, 2012, at Benghazi Medical Center in Benghazi, Libya, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. (AP Photo)

Share this:

Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority on Saturday condemned the attacks on U.S. embassies as un-Islamic, according to a report by Reuters.

"It is forbidden to punish the innocent for the wicked crimes of the guilty, or to attack those who have been granted protection of their lives and property, or to expose public buildings to fire or destruction," he said in a speech carried by state news agency SPA.

Read the full report here.

Share this:
@ AliTweel : 64 pictures from 12/09/2012 demonstration in #Tripoli against violence and condemnation of US consulate attack https://t.co/Q2CY4FFF #Libya

Share this:

Burkina Faso's President Blaise Compaore urged Muslims to refrain from violence on Saturday. From the AP:

Compaore, who is a convert to Islam, said that violence should not be the response of Muslims to provocations, even from the maker of the film of the Prophet Muhammad. Compaore described the filmmaker as a “brainless man who thinks he has the right to despise the religious feelings of others.”

Compaore deplored the street violence of recent days, saying the “credibility and greatness” of Islam is not through violence.

Share this:

"There is no religion that condones the targeting of innocent men and women. There is no excuse for attacks on our embassies and consulates. So long as I am commander-in-chief, the United States will never tolerate efforts to harm our fellow Americans."

Watch Obama's full remarks here:

Share this:


KHARTOUM, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Sudan has rejected a U.S. request to send a platoon of Marines to bolster security at the U.S. embassy in Khartoum, the state news agency SUNA said on Saturday.

On Friday, a U.S. official told Reuters that Washington would send Marines to Sudan to improve security at the embassy after protesters entered the mission in a demonstration against a film that insults the Prophet Mohammad.

"Sudan is able to protect the diplomatic missions in Khartoum and the state is committed to protecting its guests in the diplomatic corps," Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti told SUNA. (Reporting by Ulf Laessing; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

Share this:
@ latimes : People linked to 'Innocence of Muslims' receive death threats, consultant says http://t.co/gSdQXFDp

Share this:
afghanistan protest

Afghans burn an effigy of U.S. President Barack Obama during a protest in Khost, south-east of Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. A few hundred university students protested against an anti-Islam film which depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a madman, shouting "death to America." (AP Photo/Nashanuddin Khan)

Share this:

From Reuters:

Afghanistan's Taliban claimed responsibility on Saturday for an attack on a base which U.S. officials said killed two American Marines, saying it was in response to a film that insults the Prophet Mohammad.

Camp Bastion, in southern Helmand province, came under mortar, rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire late on Friday in an attack in which several servicemen were wounded.

"The aim of this attack was revenge against Americans for the anti-Prophet movie," said Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf.

Read more here.

Share this:

From the Associated Press:

Riot police clashed with about 200 protesters at the U.S. Consulate in Sydney on Saturday as demonstrations against an anti-Islam film produced in the United States spread to Australia.

Ten Network television news showed a policeman knocked unconscious as the mostly male crowd hurled bottles and other missiles. Many of the protesters were wearing Muslim dress.

Police used pepper spray against the protesters, who chanted "Obama, Obama, we love Osama" and waved placards saying "Behead all those who insult the Prophet."

Read more here.

Share this:

From the Associated Press:

Tunisia's governing moderate Islamist party condemned an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tunis and the neighboring American school, saying such violence threatens the country's progress toward democracy after decades of dictatorship.

Read more here.

Share this:

From the Associated Press:

The U.S. is sending more spies, Marines and drones to Libya, trying to speed the search for those who killed the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans, but the investigation is complicated by a chaotic security picture in the post-revolutionary country, and limited American and Libyan intelligence resources.

The CIA has fewer people available to send, stretched thin from tracking conflicts across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Read more here.

Share this:

From the Associated Press:

Pope Benedict XVI appealed Saturday for religious freedom in the Middle East, calling it fundamental for stability in a region bloodied by sectarian strife.

Benedict spoke on the second day of his visit to Lebanon, a country with the largest percentage of Christians in the Middle East. He arrived amid a wave of violent demonstrations over an anti-Islam film across the Muslim world.

"Let us not forget that religious freedom is a fundamental right from which many other rights stem," he said, speaking in French to government officials, foreign diplomats and religious leaders at the president palace in Mount Lebanon in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

Read the whole story here.

Share this:

From Reuters:

Clashes near the U.S. Embassy in central Cairo between police and Egyptians incensed over a film denigrating the Prophet Mohammad entered their fourth day early on Saturday, leaving one protester dead and dozens more injured.

The clashes moved to a main road on the banks of the Nile after authorities closed the street leading to the embassy. The protesters, many of whom are intent upon breaking into the embassy, now are seeking alternative routes to the site.

Read the full story here.

Share this:

From Reuters:

At least two people were killed and 29 others were wounded on Friday when police fought hundreds of protesters who ransacked the U.S. embassy in Tunisia in their fury over a film denigrating the Prophet Mohammad, state television said.

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki condemned what he called "an attack against the embassy of a friendly nation".

Read the full story here.

Share this:

From the Associated Press:

A U.S. official says an elite Marine rapid response team is headed to Sudan in the wake of violence and protests against the embassy in Khartoum.

The deployment comes as Sudanese police opened fire on protesters trying to climb the walls of the U.S. Embassy.

Read the full story here.

Share this:

A 35-year-old protester was killed in the Egyptian capital on Friday as hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the U.S. Embassy clashed with police.

Read the full story here.

Share this:

U.S. officials say 55-year-old Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is being investigated for probation violations.

"A source with knowledge of the case confirmed that the probation office was looking specifically into Nakoula's possible involvement in making the film for violations of the terms of his release."

Read the full story here.

Share this:
AP video shows a group gathering to protest the attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya:

Share this:
@ Reuters : Google rejects White House request to pull Mohammad film clip http://t.co/yi0s0288

Share this:
@ AP : BREAKING: US official says 2 Marines killed in attack on NATO base in Afghanistan

Share this:

"The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob," Clinton said on Friday at a ceremony for the Americans slain in Libya.

arab protests clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, accompanied by President Barack Obama, speaks during a Transfer of Remains Ceremony, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., marking the return to the United States of the remains of the four Americans killed this week in Benghazi, Libya. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Share this: