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Film protests spiral in Muslim world

Demonstrations against a controversial anti-Islam film show no sign of abating in the Muslim world. Flag burning and anti-American chants are common themes outside American embassies and other missions.

Protests broke out in several cities across Pakistan on Wednesday, with angry crowds demonstrating against an American-produced video, "Innocence of Muslims."

Demonstrators congregated in the district of Islamabad where the US embassy and other missions are located. Five hundred Pakistani lawyers broke through one of the barricades to the heavily-guarded diplomatic enclave. Those leading the crowd then delivered incendiary speeches denouncing the US, and demanding that Pakistan expel the US Ambassador and cease its "criminal silence" over the online film.

"The government should stop the policy of appeasing the US," they said.

Wearing headbands with the slogan "Lovers of the Prophet, Death to the blasphemer, America's friends are traitors," protesters also laid an American flag on the ground and stepped on it then proceeded to burn it.

The Pakistani government responded to anger over the film's portrayal of Islam's Prophet Mohammed on Wednesday by declaring Friday a national holiday in the Muslim religious figurehead's honor. Pakistan's cabinet said the day would be on "of expression of love for the prophet."

Anger in Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Indonesia

About 1,000 people took part in demonstrations in Afghanistan on Wednesday, blocking an important road linking eastern Afghanistan and Kabul. The crowd, mostly made up of university students, chanted "Death to the enemies of Islam" and "Death to America." The protests follow clashes with police in Kabul on Monday and the northern town of Kunduz on Tuesday after rallies against the film escalated.

Hundreds of Afghans demonstrate against the film of Innocence of Muslims in Kabul, Afghanistan. Photo: Hussain Sirat/DW

Protests against the "Innocence of Muslims" have been fierce in Afghanistan

Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka's capital, Colombo, hundreds of activists took to the streets. Around 300 protesters waved banners inscribed with "Ban anti-Islamic film all over the world. US should apologize to Muslims." The crowds also chanted "Hang the producer and director of the film."

A spokesperson for the protesters, Abdul Razeek, vowed that the demonstrations would not stop until the film was removed from YouTube. He added that those rallying against the film were "ready to sacrifice [their] lives for this."

In Southeast Asia, heightening tensions over the video prompted the US government to close its mission in the Indonesian city of Medan, due to protests over the film on Wednesday. There were also reports of hundreds of activists throwing eggs at the American embassy in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on Wednesday.

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.

sej / rc (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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