Anti-US protests spread amid film fury

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Updated 7:50 pm: Angry protests over an Israeli-American film allegedly insulting Prophet Mohammad have spread in the Middle East, with new demonstrations reported in Tunisia, Morocco and Sudan.

Around 100 hardline Salafis protested outside the US embassy in Tunisia on Wednesday against the film that sparked violence in Libya and Egypt and the death of a US ambassador.

An AFP photographer said men and women protesters carrying black and white Salafi flags massed outside the US diplomatic compound around 10 kilometers north of the capital.

Police deployed reinforcements at the already highly secure embassy blockhouse, with a military vehicle standing guard outside and motorbike units patrolling the area.

A source inside the compound told AFP the embassy was working as normal on Wednesday despite the violence in Libya and Egypt.

The amateur US-made Internet video called "Innocence of Muslims.", in which actors have strong American accents, portrays Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent.

It also pokes fun at the Prophet Mohammed and touches on themes of paedophilia and homosexuality.

It was produced by Israeli-American Sam Bacile and promoted by US pastor Terry Jones, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In the Moroccan city of Casablanca, around 300 and 400 mostly young activists, gathered some 200 meters (yards) from the US consulate amid a heavy police presence.

Some shouted anti-US slogans, including "Death to Obama!", but without resorting to violence.

In Khartoum, hundreds of protesters upset over the movie demonstrated outside the US embassy in Sudan on Wednesday, an embassy official said.

"I do believe it was a few hundred," the official said, asking for anonymity. "Our compound was not breached."

"It has to do with this film," the US embassy official said of the protest by a group which called itself "Sudanese Youth".

He said embassy staff met three of the protesters, who delivered written demands.

"They were asking for an immediate apology, removal of the YouTube video", and expressed their displeasure at pastor Jones, the official said.

On Tuesday, US ambassador to Tripoli Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the eastern city of Benghazi when an armed mob stormed the US consulate there, torching the building after ransacking and looting it.

And in Cairo, several thousand people stormed the US embassy in a similar protest against the movie.

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood calls for protests

Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday called for nationwide protests Friday to denounce the film.

The Brotherhood calls "for peaceful protests on Friday outside all the main mosques in all of Egypt's provinces to denounce offenses to religion and to the Prophet," the Muslim Brotherhood's Secretary General Mahmud Hussein said in a statement.

He also urged all "national forces to join the protests."

The Islamists, who have ascended to power in Egypt following the 2011 ouster of former tyrant Hosni Mubarak, have gone ahead with protest plans, despite related violence in Libya.

The Muslim Brotherhood is the movement of Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi, who the US had been engaging in the hope of retaining warm ties with Cairo.

Taliban urges revenge

The Taliban joined the chorus of condemnation, calling on Afghans to prepare for a fight against Americans and urged rebels to "take revenge" on US soldiers over the US-made film.

"The Islamic Emirate calls on religious heads around the country to completely inform Muslim followers of the inhumane acts of Americans... And make them ready for a long-term fight," the group said in a statement, referring to the name it calls itself.

The Afghan government released a statement strongly denouncing "the desecrating" film, calling for efforts to prevent the release of the insulting film and denouncing the producer and the US pastor.

The film also came under heavy criticism from other sectors of the Arab and Islamic world, including Lebanon's Hezbollah, Syria's Muslim Brotherhood and Iran.

Iranian media reported an anti-US protest over the movie would take place in Tehran on Thursday.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)


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