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Embassies Targeted As Film Protests Spread In Muslim Countries

Protesters scuffle with Pakistani riot police as they attempt to reach the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad during a demonstration against the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims."
Protesters scuffle with Pakistani riot police as they attempt to reach the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad during a demonstration against the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims."
By RFE/RL
U.S. and other foreign embassies have come under fresh assault in the capitals of several predominantly Muslim states as mobs continued to rage against a video made in the United States that ridiculed the Prophet Muhammad.

Violent protests have broken out in a number of countries since the September 11 killing in Libya of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other embassy employees when armed individuals led a rocket and gun attack that destroyed the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

In Washington, a White House spokesman said President Barack Obama had spoken to regional leaders across the Middle East to ensure the security of U.S. diplomats and missions.

Press Secretary Jay Carney rejected the notion that the protests opposed U.S. policies. "This is a fairly volatile situation and it is in response not to United States policy, not to obviously the administration, not the American people," Carney said. "It is in response to a video, a film that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting, [but] that in no way justifies any violent reaction to it."

Meanwhile, the remains of the four Americans killed in Benghazi have arrived in the United States. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden joined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at Andrews Air Force Base for a ceremony to honor the four.

Obama paid tribute to the fallen diplomats

"To you, their families and colleagues, to all Americans, know this: their sacrifice will never be forgotten. We will bring to justice those who took them from us. We will stand fast against the violence on our diplomatic missions. We will continue to do everything in our power to continue to protect Americans serving overseas, whether that means increasing security at our diplomatic posts, working with host countries which have an obligation to provide security, and making it clear that justice will come to those who harm Americans," Obama said.

Speaking alongside Obama, Clinton said the deaths of the diplomats were "senseless" and "unacceptable."

U.S. officials are investigating whether the assault on the U.S. mission was a coordinated attack by militants that took advantage of protests in Muslim countries over a video mocking Islam.

Protest Deaths

With anger over the anti-Islamic film trailer spilling over into a fourth day on September 14, at least one protester was reported killed by police in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, after protesters scaled the outer wall of the U.S. Embassy.

A crowd also broke into the compound of the German Embassy and set fires and broke windows, and attacked the British Embassy.

"When they insult our belief, our religion, under the slogan of freedom and democracy, we say to hell with freedom and democracy when it touches the religions and faiths or people," one Sudanese protester told Reuters.

In Berlin, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle condemned the attack on their embassy.

"I sharply condemn the attacks on the German Embassy in Khartoum," Westerwelle said. "I demand from the Sudanese authorities that the safety of the German Embassy will be guaranteed immediately. I condemn this anti-Islamic hate video; but still, this cannot be a justification for the outbreak of violence. This violence must stop immediately."

In Tunisia, protesters stormed the grounds of the U.S. Embassy, and scenes showed smoke coming from a fire inside the embassy compound.

Official media citing the Tunisian Health Ministry said that three people had been killed and another 28 wounded in the clashes. Two of the injured reportedly were in a critical condition.

There were reports of an American school being set on fire in Tunis.

Security forces in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, used water cannon and warning shots to disperse several hundred protesters trying to reach the U.S. Embassy. There were no reports of injuries. The Pentagon confirmed that U.S. marines had been dispatched to Sanaa to protect the embassy.

ALSO SEE: Unsettling Details Emerge About Controversial Muhammad Film

Elsewhere in Sanaa, tens of thousands of demonstrators protested peacefully against the film. An imam leading prayers at the protest condemned an attack on the U.S. Embassy in the city on September 13, saying it "insulted Islam" as much as the movie did.

Clashes and demonstrations were also reported in Lebanon, India, Indonesia, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

Sudanese demonstrators stand in front of the burning German Embassy in Khartoum after Friday Prayers on September 14.
Sudanese demonstrators stand in front of the burning German Embassy in Khartoum after Friday Prayers on September 14.


Skirmishes also broke out in Egypt on September 14, where the Muslim Brotherhood initially called for nationwide "peaceful protests" but later rescinded its decision out of fear of violence.

The group added that the United States is not responsible for the film.

Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi went on state television and called on Egyptians to protect foreign embassies. He denounced the September 11 killings in Libya of the Americans.

Libya temporarily closed its airspace over Benghazi on September 14 due to security concerns. Deputy Minister of Transport Fawzi Beltamr told state media all flights to and from that eastern city had been suspended after gunshots were heard in the vicinity of the airport. He said flights resumed after the area around the airport was secured.

'Heinous Crime'

Some 200 Indonesians protested peacefully outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta on September 14, shouting "Death to America!"

Ismail Yusanto, a spokesman for the pan-Islamic Hizb ut-Tahrir organization in Indonesia, called on Washington to take action against the film.

"We urge the United States to stop the film and destroy it," he said.

At a protest in the Iraqi port city of Basra, tribal leader Sheikh Abu Kifah al-Bakhatri also expressed outrage.

"Basra's tribes call for the closure of the American and British consulates and denounce the insult to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon Him," he said

Thousands protested in Tehran, and on September 13 Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged the United States to punish those guilty of "this heinous crime."

A few hundred people protested near the Afghan city of Jalalabad. And in the eastern Nangarhar Province, protesters burned an effigy of U.S. President Barack Obama as well as U.S. flags.

A senior Afghan cleric in Kabul said the movie is "the work of American Jews."

Imam Enayatullah Baleegh said U.S. President Barack Obama "should be held responsible" because he "could not control such an insulting act."

Purported Filmmaker Says 'No Regrets'

In India, the Internet company Google has blocked local access to the popular YouTube video website to prevent people there from viewing excerpts of the film. The company did not say if the Indian authorities had requested the action.

The video has already been blocked in Libya and Egypt.

Speaking on a U.S. Arabic radio station on September 14, the man who claims to have produced the film said he has "no regrets" about making the movie, despite the ongoing violence.

But Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian who lives in the United States, said he was "saddened" and "feels guilty" about the deaths of Stevens and others.

He said the United States had nothing to do with his film but is "suffering the consequences" of its production.

Nakoula said people should view the entire film before passing judgment on it.

With reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, and Reuters

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