Outrage over provocative film spreads, targets US
SANAA / WASHINGTON
Like in Libya and Egypt, Yemenis protest a film ridiculing Islam’s Prophet Muhammad at the gate of the US Embassy during a demonstration in the capital, Sanaa. AP photo
Washington has sent its naval and aerial forces to Libya as protests against U.S. embassies triggered by anger over an anti-Islam movie spread to other countries in the region yesterday, alarming all its diplomatic missions.
The Libyan mob attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11 that resulted in the killings of four Americans has spread to several countries, as one was killed in Yemen during demonstrations. Yemeni police yesterday shot dead a protester and five other protesters were injured outside the U.S. Embassy in Sanaa, shortly after ejecting crowds that stormed the mission’s compound, a security official said.
Riot police fired warning shots and tear gas early yesterday outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to subdue hundreds of protestors. Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi apologized to U.S. President Barack Obama and the American people for the acts of the “mob” and ordered a probe into the attack, Saba state news agency said.
More than 200 Palestinians angered by the film held a demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, CNN reported. Iranian protesters yesterday gathered in front of the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, which represents U.S. interests in the country, semi-official Fars news agency reported.
US distances itself from film
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton distanced yesterday the U.S. from the film which triggered the protests. “We absolutely reject its content and message,” she said. “To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage.”
In response to the attack Sept. 11, the United States is deploying warships and surveillance drones in its hunt for those who killed the four Americans in Libya. The United States dispatched two naval destroyers to waters off Libya and deployed a 50-strong counterterrorism team of U.S. Marines to bolster security at its Tripoli embassy.
The United States also has unmanned drone aircraft at its disposal to help Tripoli track militants who may have carried out the attack, officials said. Libya has launched an inquiry into the Benghazi attack, amid growing speculation that al-Qaeda militants among the frenzied mob carried out the assault rather than simple demonstrators.
In Cairo, crowds protesting at the U.S. Embassy the same day as the Benghazi attack climbed its walls and tore down an American flag, which they replaced briefly with a black Islamist flag. The protests continued yesterday, with protesters clashing with police near the U.S. mission. Speaking during a visit to Brussels, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said he had spoken to Obama and condemned “in the clearest terms” the attacks on the U.S. Embassy.
He also harshly criticized the movie, which came to attention in Egypt after its trailer was dubbed into Arabic and posted on YouTube. YouTube blocked access to the film in Egypt and Libya on Sept. 12, while Afghanistan blocked access to the video-sharing website.
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai postponed his visit to Norway for fear of violence at home over the anti-Islam film, officials said yesterday. India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines issued an alert to the security forces deployed outside U.S. diplomatic missions. In Iraq hundreds of Shiites demanded the closure of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and burned American flags. The U.S. consulate in Berlin was evacuated as a precaution yesterday after an employee reported a strange smell from an envelope, but police said no dangerous materials were found.