Here’s a look at protests across the Middle East on Thursday, three days after crowds angry over an anti-Muslim film began assaulting a string of U.S. embassies in the region.
• YEMEN: Hundreds of protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in the capital Sanaa, chanting “Death to America,” setting tires ablaze, smashing windows and pelting the compound with rocks. They brought down the U.S. flag in the courtyard, burned it and replaced it with a black Islamic banner.
Yemeni security forces rushed to the scene, fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. They were able to drive them out of the compound after about 45 minutes, sealing off the surrounding streets. At least four protesters were killed and more than 30 were injured
• EGYPT: Protesters clashed with police near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for the third day in a row. Police used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators and the two sides pelted each other with rocks. Sixteen protesters and 13 policemen were wounded in the clashes, which broke out overnight. Twelve protesters have been arrested, the Interior Ministry said. Egypt’s Islamist President Mohammed Morsi vowed not to allow attacks on foreign embassies in Cairo, saying the Egyptian people reject such “unlawful acts.”
• IRAQ: Hundreds of followers of the anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demanded the closure of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad – the largest American diplomatic mission in the world – because of the film. Thousands marched in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in northeast Baghdad and shouted, “No, no, to Israel! No, no to America!” and “Yes, yes for Messenger of God.” An Iran-backed Shiite militant group threatened U.S. interests in Iraq with its militia’s leader, Qais al-Khazali, telling the AP that the amateurish movie was unforgiveable.
• AFGHANISTAN: The government in Kabul has sought to avert protests, given that anger over perceived insults to Islam has triggered violence in the past. President Hamid Karzai canceled an official visit to Norway and spoke by phone with President Barack Obama to convey his condolences for the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other diplomats.
• IRAN: About 50 protesters gathered in Tehran outside the Swiss Embassy, which looks after U.S. diplomatic interests, shouting “Death to America” and condemning the film. The embassy is heavily guarded by riot police and there were no reports of violence. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged the United States to punish those who were involved in making and financing the film, calling it “a grave and unforgivable sin” and a “dirty crime.”
• GAZA: About 150 Muslim clerics and lawmakers from the ruling Hamas movement stage a protest outside the parliament building in Gaza City to condemn the film. They accused Israel and the West of stoking up sectarian tensions in the region and pitching Muslims against Christians.
• ISRAEL: Israeli police said they were stepping up security ahead of Friday prayers in Jerusalem. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that “tensions have been felt.” He said a larger number of officers would be deployed around Jerusalem’s Old City, where the Al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site, is located.