U.S. Braces For More Protests Over Anti-Islamic Film
September 14, 2012
U.S. diplomatic missions in the Islamic world are bracing for a possible fourth day of protests against a privately made film that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad.
The period after the end of weekly Friday Prayers is often a time of demonstrations in the Middle East and North Africa.
Fresh clashes between police and demonstrators have already been reported near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, after the Muslim Brotherhood called for "peaceful protests" across Egypt on September 14.
Egyptian police used tear gas to try to disperse stone-throwing protesters.
On September 13, 224 people were injured in Egypt during protests related to the movie.
U.S. President Barack Obama said on September 13 that he expected the Egyptian government to help protect the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.
"Certainly in this situation, what we're going to expect is that they are responsive to our insistence that our embassy is protected, that our personnel is protected," Obama said.
"And if they take actions that indicate they are not taking those responsibilities as all other countries do where we have embassies, I think that's going to be a real big problem."
Police in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta were on alert on September 14 and religious and government leaders were calling for calm. Some 20 protesters chanted at a peaceful demonstration outside the embassy in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.
Protests have also been called in Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Israel, the Gaza Strip, Kuwait, Sudan, and Tunisia.
One unidentified Palestinian at a rally in the Gaza Strip condemned the movie, a low-budget film produced privately in the United States.
"We reject this film and we reject their aim so as to spoil relations and brand the Arabs and Muslims as terrorists," he said.
The origins of the film are unclear, although it has been linked to both Coptic Christian immigrants from Egypt as well as evangelical Christians.
The film has been partly blamed for the wave of protest, which began on September with violent demonstrations in Libya and Egypt.
During a protest in Benghazi, Libya, militants attacked the U.S. Consulate and killed four diplomats, including Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens.
On September 13, four Yemenis were killed in a protest in Sanaa.
Libyan leader Muhammad Magarief and Yemeni President Mansur Hadi have condemned the protests.
West Itself To Blame?
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on September 13 that the West's support for antigovernment movements in the Arab world was causing instability.
"It always raises our anxiety that by supporting those armed groups, we may lead the situation into an absolute dead end. We don't know the final objective of those freedom fighters," Putin said.
"We are afraid that the region may sink into chaos, which is actually happening already."
In a statement released late on September 13, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for "calm and restraint," adding that "nothing justifies such killings and attacks."
Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Lebanon on September 14, where demonstrations against the movie are expected outside of Beirut.
With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP
Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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