US Embassy burns files as film unrest continues
WASHINGTON / BEIRUT
Firefighters work to extinguish flames on a government vehicle after it was set on fire by Kashmiri protesters in Srinagar, India, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam’s Prophet Muhammed. AP photoAs anti-American protests spurred from anger over a film made in the United States that allegedly mocks the Prophet Muhammed continue for a second week across Muslim world, diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut have started to destroy classified material as a security precaution.
A State Department status report obtained on Sept. 17 by The Associated Press said the Beirut embassy had “reviewed its emergency procedures and is beginning to destroy classified holdings.” It also said that local Lebanese employees were sent home early due to protests by the militant Shiite group Hezbollah over the film, which is being deemed anti-Muslim.
In a rare public appearance, Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah warned of “very dangerous” global repercussions if an anti-Islam film is released in its entirety, speaking to a rally in Beirut late Sept. 17.
Hezbollah warns of global repercussions over film
“America must understand [...] that releasing the entire film will have dangerous, very dangerous, repercussions around the world,” Nasrallah, whose Lebanese movement is blacklisted in the U.S. as a terrorist group, told the rally. “As long as there’s blood in us, we will not remain silent over insults against our prophet.”
In Washington, a State Department official said there was no imminent threat to the heavily fortified Beirut embassy, which is about an hour away from where the nearest demonstration is planned.
The official said the decision to “reduce classified holdings” was routine. The State Department ordered all U.S. embassies and consulates around the world to review their security postures after the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed in a mob attack in Benghazi on Sept. 11.
Meanwhile, al-Qaeda’s franchise in North Africa yesterday urged Muslims to storm U.S. embassies and kill American envoys in Muslim countries. Fresh clashes erupted in Pakistan and Indian Kashmir where protesters burnt a police vehicle. French President Francois Hollande said Islam is a “more tolerant” religion than the extremists. In the meantime, a female bomber killed 12 people, including South Africans, in Kabul yesterday “in retaliation for the insult” to Prophet in the film.
Hezb-i-Islami claimed the attack. In the meantime, a controversial new Russian media law could be used to block YouTube in the country over postings of the anti-Islam film, the communications minister Nikolai Nikiforov warned yesterday.