The fury over an anti-Islam film that targeted American diplomatic missions has spread to include a number of other Western facilities in the Muslim world, raising the specter Saturday of a widening protest.
Attacks on German and British embassies in Sudan, the ransacking of an American school in Tunisia, a fire at a U.S.-based fast-food restaurant in Lebanon and attacks against multi-national peacekeepers in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula were among the latest targets in protests that turned violent.
Top Western diplomats warned leaders in countries where the unrest has been most pronounced to ensure the protection of its missions and its people.
“I am following the unfolding events with grave concern and call on national authorities in all countries concerned to swiftly ensure the security of diplomatic mission and protect diplomatic staff,” Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign affairs chief, said in a statement.
“It is vitally important leaders across the affected regions should call immediately for peace and restraint.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took it one step further, warning that the United States would take action to protect its diplomatic facilities if the countries in question did not stop the violence and seek justice for the attacks.
“Reasonable people and responsible leaders in these countries need to do everything they can to restore security and hold accountable those behind these violent acts,” she said Friday.
“And we will … keep taking steps to protect our personnel around the world.”
From Morocco to Malaysia, thousands of Muslims have taken to the streets in recent days — with sometimes deadly results — over the release of a 14-minute trailer, privately produced in the United States, that mocks the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizer, child molester and ruthless killer.
Despite the firm condemnation by U.S. government officials, some in the Muslim world — especially those raised in regimes in which the government must authorize any film production — cannot accept that a movie like “Innocence of Muslims” can be produced without being sanctioned by Washington, said Council of Foreign Relations scholar Ed Husain.
“They’re projecting … their experience, their understanding (that) somehow the U.S. government is responsible for the actions of a right-wing fellow,” said Husain, a senior fellow at the New York think thank.
The demonstrations, notably, haven’t all been violent and the protesters represent only a fraction of their respective nations’ populations: A few thousands, for example, clashed with security forces outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, in a city of more than 18 million people.
But protests that have turned violent have led to a number of deaths — including those of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans killed in an attack Tuesday in Benghazi, Libya.
At least six people were killed and dozens wounded in the clashes across the Muslim world that followed.
Protesters, police clash in Australia
Australia became the latest nation to cope with protests as hundreds of demonstrators clashed with police Saturday outside the U.S. consulate in Sydney.
Carrying signs that read: “Obama, Obama, we like Osama” and “Behead All Those Who Insult the Prophet,” protesters gathered on the steps of the consulate.
The demonstration turned violent after protesters were pushed back from the building by police.
Authorities used tear gas and police dogs to disperse protesters who threw bottles and shoes — considered a grave insult among Muslims, according to witnesses and police video.
At least four people were injured, including a police officer who was hit in the face with a bottle, according to witnesses and authorities.
- Protester killed in Egypt clashes (cnsnews.com)
- U.S. embassy assaults spread (toledoblade.com)
- Marines arrive in Yemen after embassy attack, protests spread (foxnews.com)
- Embassies targeted as anti-film protests spread (onlineathens.com)
- British, German and US embassies targeted as protests against anti-Islam film continue to spread throughout Muslim world – World Politics – World – The Independent (bonniesbumps.wordpress.com)
- Protests spread in Arab world, more embassies come under attack (ctvnews.ca)
- Violence spreads across Middle East over anti-Islam film (foxnews.com)
- Embassies targeted as protests against ‘Innocence of Muslims’ film spread (newsday.com)
- US working with Arab, African nations to protect missions (newsinfo.inquirer.net)