Protests spread in Arab world, more embassies come under attack
Published Friday, September 14, 2012 8:14AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 14, 2012 10:00PM EDT
Angry protesters rallied at Western embassies around the Middle East and other Muslim countries Friday, as anger built over an anti-Islamic video that surfaced in the United States -- apparently the work of an Egyptian-Christian living in Los Angeles.
In addition to an angry standoff outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, events were held in Yemen, Tehran, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on Friday, the Muslim holy day.
And for the first time, protesters took aim at a Western embassy that had no known connection to the video, targeting the German embassy in Sudan’s capital. The embassy was smashed and set partially on fire.
The U.S. Embassy in Tunis was also attacked Friday, with protesters climbing the walls and waving an Islamist banner.
In the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, one protester was killed in clashes with police after a crowd of protesters set a KFC and Arby’s on fire, The Associated Press reports.
The violence began earlier this week on Sept. 11, when demonstrators stormed the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. The ambassador and three other Americans were killed in the attack, which now appears to have been planned.
Washington has placed all of its overseas diplomatic missions on high alert, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced the video.
Friday, the Islamic holy day, is often politically charged as Muslims gather in large groups for prayers, which are often followed by demonstrations and protests.
In Cairo on Friday morning, demonstrators gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in a tense standoff with police.
Security forces erected a barricade to keep people away from the embassy itself. At one point, a group of elders from the ruling Muslim Brotherhood waded into the crowd to try to resolve the situation, but they were unsuccessful.
The Brotherhood had been asking Egyptian Muslims to attend Friday prayers, then demonstrate peacefully at their mosque, rather than in the streets.
“Our prophet was peaceful so we need to send a message of peace, not of violence,” one man in the crowd told CTV News.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi appealed to Muslims on national TV not to attack embassies and foreigners, denouncing the violence that’s gripped Cairo.
The film that sparked the unrest depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a madman.
Since it surfaced online it has prompted violent protests at U.S. embassies throughout the Middle East.
On Friday, hundreds of Afghans gathered in Jalalabad in the east of the country to protest the video, some shouting “death to America.”
It wasn’t clear whether the Afghan protests were organized or spontaneous. One protester told The Associated Press that the crowd was calling on Afghan President Hamid Karzai to cut relations with the United States.
Hillary Clinton, visiting Morocco, emphasized the anti-Islamic video was the work of an individual and was not endorsed by the U.S. government.
"The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video," she said before a meeting with the foreign minister of Morocco at the State Department. "We absolutely reject its content and message."
"To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible," Clinton said. "It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage."
While the film has been held up as the catalyst for protests around the world, Washington suspects the attack in Benghazi may have been motivated by extremism, rather than the video itself.
U.S. officials have also stressed there was no advance warning or intelligence to suggest a threat in Libya that would warrant boosting security, even on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center.
"As we did with all of our missions overseas, in advance of the September 11 anniversary and as we do every year, we did evaluate the threat stream and we determined that the security at Benghazi was appropriate for what we knew," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
With a report from CTV’s Middle East Bureau Chief Martin Seemungal and files from The Associated Press