Here’s a look at protests and reaction across the Middle East and elsewhere today over an anti-Muslim film produced in the U.S. ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad.
Hundreds of protesters demonstrating against the film torched a press club and a government building in the northwestern town of Wari, setting of clashes with police that killed one demonstrator and wounded several others.
Hundreds also clashed with police for a second day in the southern city of Karachi as they tried to reach the U.S. Consulate there. Police lobbed tear gas and fired in the air to disperse the protesters who were from the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami party. Police arrested 40 students, but no injuries were reported.
Demonstrations turned violent outside a U.S. military base in Kabul, where about 800 protesters burned cars and threw rocks at Camp Phoenix. Many in the crowd shouted “Death to America!” and “Death to those people who have made a film and insulted our Prophet.”
Police fired into the air to hold back about crowd and to prevent it from pushing toward government buildings downtown. More than 20 police officers were slightly injured, most of them hit by rocks. Protests also broke out along the main thoroughfare into Kabul, where demonstrators burned shipping containers and tires. The crowd torched at least one police vehicle before finally dispersing.
Hundreds clashed with police outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, hurling rocks and firebombs and setting tires alight. It was the first violence seen in the world’s most populous Muslim country since international outrage over the film exploded last week. Eleven policemen were rushed to the hospital after being pelted with rocks and attacked with bamboo sticks, while four protesters were arrested and one was hospitalized.
Demonstrators burned a picture of President Barack Obama and tried to ignite a fire truck parked outside the embassy after ripping a water hose off the vehicle and torching it, sending black smoke billowing into the sky. Police used water cannons and tear gas to try to disperse the crowd as the protesters shouted “Allahu Akbar,” or God is great, and burned a U.S. flag. Demonstrations were also held in the cities of Medan and Bandung.
Iran’s top leader urged the West to show it respects Muslims by blocking the film. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Western leaders must prove they are not “accomplices” in a “big crime.” Khamenei was quoted on state TV as noting that some nations place restrictions on expression, such as banning Nazi-related sites.
The leader of the powerful militant group Hezbollah makes a rare public appearance at a rally of tens of thousands of his supporters in Beirut. Hassan Nasrallah does not usually appear in public for fear of assassination. He called for the protest, saying the U.S. must be held accountable for the film because it was produced in America.
An al-Qaida-linked Egyptian jihadist, Ahmed Ashoush, issued a religious edict, or fatwa, saying it is justified to kill anyone who took part in the making of the prophet film.
Ashoush, who was believed close to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida’s current No. 1, Ayman al-Zawahri, heads the relatively obscure “Jihad Group.” His edict, posted on a militant website, says the blood of the participants in the movie “should be shed, including the producer, the director and the actors” and that “their killing is a duty of every capable Muslim.”
Several hundred Palestinians held a peaceful protest in the city of Ramallah against the film. Men stood on one side, chanting, “We will sacrifice for you, oh Muhammad.” Women wearing headscarves stood on the other side, holding up large posters in Arabic, including one that read: “The Prophet is more important than my family.”
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The country’s telecommunication regulator said it has blocked access to the video and urged users to report any existing links to the country’s Internet providers. Internet users in the Emirates searching by name for the film on YouTube, for example, now get a standard page used for other censored sites in the country saying “this website is not accessible in the UAE.” There are loopholes, though, since YouTube itself is not blocked and it is still possible to view the film by clicking recently posted links found within the site.