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Embassies on high alert ahead of Friday protests

Western embassies have been put on high alert with violent protests expected throughout the Islamic world. Germany has called for particular vigilance as a German magazine prepares to publish its own anti-Islam images.

Western embassies around the world were preparing for the worst on Friday, with thousands of protesters expected to take to the streets after weekly prayers to demonstrate against a US-made anti-Islam film.

The US government has withdrawn non-essential diplomatic personnel from Tunisia and Sudan. France, meanwhile, has closed embassies and schools in 20 Muslim countries fearing backlash in the wake of a French magazine Charlie Hebdo's publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.

Riot police have also been deployed in Pakistan where Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf's government has called an impromptu holiday to allow people to protest, designating it a "day of love for the Prophet."

German warning

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also issued a security alert to diplomatic personal on Thursday after German magazine, Titanic, revealed that it planned to join the debate by publishing its own provocative images.

"We have increased safety measures throughout the region as well as the number of security personnel," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters in Berlin. He added that the closure of embassies and other German instructions was worth considering.

His warning comes a week after protesters stormed the German embassy in Sudan's capital Khartoum, starting a fire and damaging the exterior of the building.

Titanic plans to feature a front page photo montage of Bettina Wulff, wife of ex-German president Christian Wulff, being embraced by a Muslim fighter brandishing a dagger in its next publication. The headline reads: "West rises up: Bettina Wulff makes Film about Mohammed." The October issue is due to go on sale on September 28.

Obama issues an appeal

US President Barack Obama sought to ease tensions on Thursday by running an advert on Pakistani television stations, condemning the California-made film, the Innocence of Muslims.

The American embassy in Islamabad spent some $70,000 (53,975 euros) to run the ad, which features Obama and US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton rejecting the amateur film's message.

Protests against the film have spread to around 20 countries and led to the deaths of at least 28 people, including America's ambassador to Libya who was killed last week.

ccp/av (dpa, dapd, Reuters, AFP)