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Middle east

Deadly anti-US protests spread across the world

© AFP

Video by Shirli SITBON

Latest update : 2012-09-16

Angry demonstrations and riots over an anti-Islamic film escalated across the Muslim world on Friday and spilled over into Saturday, killing several people and reaching as far as Sydney and the Maldives, as police struggled to protect US embassies.

Latest developments:

  • In Sydney hundreds of protesters clashed with police and hurled shoes at the US consulate.
  • At least six protesters died overnight Friday in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Sudan as police there battled to defend American embassies from mobs.
  • Dozens of people took part in a heated demonstration near the US embassy in Paris; French police arrested close to 100 people altogether.
  • Protests erupted in cities with large Muslim populations in countries as far away as Malaysia, Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria, India and the Maldives.
  • The bodies of US ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other embassy staff were returned to the US late on Friday. President Barack Obama vowed again to “bring to justice those who took them [the four victims] from us”. 
  • In California, police arrested Nakoula Basseley Nakoula in connection with the obscure film that triggered the protests. Nakoula was escorted to an interview with federal officers for questioning.

Global anger

France became the latest country to witness the protests when dozens of angry people, mostly men, marched towards the US embassy in Paris and clashed with police, who made around 100 arrests.

A mob of angry demonstrators took to the US consulate in Sydney, throwing shoes and waving banners reading “behead all those who insult the Prophet”. Australian police fired pepper spray to contain protesters.

Angry mob marches on US embassy in Paris

On the same day, hundreds of people gathered outside the UN building in the Maldives, but left peacefully after a few hours.

In north Africa and the Middle East meanwhile, overnight clashes resulted in at least six deaths and hundreds of injuries, as protesters across the region fought with police as they tried to protect US missions.

In southern Afghanistan, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a heavy attack on a NATO base in Helmund province in which two US Marines and 16 attackers were killed. Britain’s Prince Harry is posted at the base but was unharmed.

On Friday, Sudanese demonstrators broke into the German embassy in Khartoum and hoisted an Islamic flag, while one person was killed in protests in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, where a KFC fast-food restaurant was attacked.

Rallies against the film were also staged on Friday in Egypt, Yemen, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq.

Protesters clashed with police near the U.S. embassy in Cairo before a nationwide protest called by the Muslim Brotherhood which propelled Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Mursi to power.

'TUNISIANS BLAME US GOVT FOR ALLOWING FILM'

Police in the Sudanese capital fired tear gas to try to disperse 5,000 protesters who had ringed the German embassy and nearby British mission. A Reuters witness said police stood by as a crowd forced its way into Germany’s mission.

Demonstrators hoisted a black Islamic flag saying in white letters “there is no God but God and Mohammed is his prophet”. They smashed windows, cameras and furniture in the building and then started a fire.

Staff at Germany’s embassy were safe “for the moment”, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Berlin. He also told Khartoum’s envoy to Berlin that Sudan must protect diplomatic missions on its soil.

Witnesses said police fired tear gas at thousands of protesters to stop them approaching the U.S. embassy outside Khartoum.

Then on Saturday Sudan rejected a US request to send special forces to protect its embassy in Khartoum, the official SUNA news agency said.

Californian arrested over incendiary film

In California, police arrested a man in relation to the obscure US-made film that triggered the protests. Previously convicted of bank fraud, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was escorted to an interview with federal officers for questioning. On the same day, the bodies of US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other embassy employees – killed in a brutal attack on the US embassy in Benghazi Tuesday – were flown home.

US President Barack Obama led a ceremony in homage to the men, vowing again to “bring to justice those who took them from us”. “We will stand fast against the violence on our diplomatic missions," Obama said at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington.

The protests present U.S. President Barack Obama with a new foreign policy crisis less than two months before seeking re-election and tests Washington’s relations with democratic governments it helped to power across the Arab world.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington had nothing to do with the crudely made film posted on the Internet, which she called “disgusting and reprehensible”, and the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff called a Christian pastor in Florida to ask him to withdraw his support for it.

FRANCE 24 with wires.

Date created : 2012-09-15

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