Shots fired, U.S. embassies stormed in furious protest over film
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Furious protests exploded around the world Friday as outraged demonstrators from Bangladesh to Sudan condemned an amateurish movie that mocked the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a bloodthirsty womanizer and child molester.
One person was killed after Lebanese security forces clashed with angry protesters in the northern city of Tripoli who had hurled stones at a government building and tried to storm it, the official Lebanese National News Agency reported. A KFC was set ablaze and ransacked.
Infuriated protesters in Tunisia stormed the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Tunis, and tore down the American flag, state media reported. Security forces fired warning shots and tear gas to try to scatter the crowd, the official Tunisian News Agency reported. Black smoke was seen rising around the embassy compound amid reports that an American school nearby had been set on fire.
In Sudan, hundreds of riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets and used batons to try to prevent a wall of hundreds of protesters reaching the U.S Embassy in the capital, Khartoum, but a group managed to break through, breach the wall of the embassy and and raise a black Islamic flag.
U.S. Embassy officials in Khartoum said late Friday that police had dispersed the protesters.
The attack followed earlier riots by thousands of protesters at the German and British embassies in Khartoum. A furious mob stormed the German Embassy and set it on fire. Sudanese Islamic scholars had called on Sudanese people Thursday to protest ‘peacefully but with strength’ to defend the prophet Muhammad.
The Pentagon told reporters Friday that Marines were being deployed to Yemen to help protect the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Sana, which had been stormed Thursday by protesters who smashed security office windows and broke past barriers to hurl stones and set cars on fire.
Protests continued to rage in Cairo, where anger over the movie first erupted earlier this week, for the fourth day in a row. Hundreds of men tried to break a police barricade to storm the U.S. Embassy as tear gas wafted across Tahrir Square.
‘The U.S. ambassador must leave!’ a young man in a T-shirt and blue jeans shouted as he was lifted up above the cheering crowds. Angry protesters said Egypt’s new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, had not been tough enough in condemning the movie and was beholden to the West.
Protests elsewhere remained peaceful: Afghan protesters burned an American flag and an effigy of President Obama in eastern Nangarhar province, but riot police were credited with staving off violence in the capital, Kabul. President Hamid Karzai did not explicitly call on the public to stay calm, but instructed provincial and religious leaders to discourage a violent response to the movie and its trailer. Roughly 200 Pakistanis gathered in Islamabad and urged Muslims to unite against the U.S., but the demonstration was kept far from the U.S. Embassy compound by a cordon of police in riot gear.
Many more protests were reported Friday across the Middle East and elsewhere, including in Bahrain, Iraq, Malaysia, Israel and Britain. The movie ‘Innocence of Muslims’ was filmed in Southern California and has been linked to Egyptian Christian activists living in the United States.
An online trailer was dubbed into Arabic and later aired on an Egyptian religious channel, spurring protests Tuesday in Egypt and Libya. The U.S. Consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi was attacked by Libyan militants that day, killing four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
-- Reem Abdellatif and Ned Parker in Cairo, Laura King and Hashmat Baktash in Kabul, Alex Rodriguez in Islamabad, Emily Alpert in Los Angeles and Times staff in Khartoum and Beirut