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Sudan rejects US plan to send embassy guards

Sudan has told the US that it will not allow a Marine platoon to guard its own embassy in Khartoum after Friday's riots over an anti-Islam film. The US has told its nonessential embassy staff to leave Sudan and Tunisia.

In response to protests on Friday, the United States had asked Sudan for permission to send in a platoon of US Marines to improve security at the embassy. Sudan rejected that request.

"Sudan is able to protect the diplomatic missions in Khartoum and the state is committed to protecting its guest in the diplomatic corps," Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti told the state news agency SUNA in reply.

The US State Department then issued a statement, saying it had ordered "all family members and nonemergency personnel" attached to the US diplomatic posts in Khartoum and Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, to depart.

US citizens were also given a travel warning that although Sudan had taken "some steps" to limit the activities of extremist groups, "elements" remained and had "threatened to attack Western interests."

Keep low profile, urges US

"You should keep a low profile, vary your times and routes of travel, exercise care when driving and ensure your passport and Sudanese visa are always valid and up to date," the US advisory said. "US citizens remaining in Tunisia should use extreme caution and avoid demonstrations," it added.

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Alleged filmmaker questioned

On Friday, some 5,000 demonstrators had taken to the streets of the Sudanese capital and stormed the German and British embassies, before breaking into the US mission, in reaction to an amateur anti-Islam film disseminated via the Internet that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad,

Sudanese police had used tear gas to stop the protesters, who attacked the facade of the German embassy and tore down its flag, replacing it with a black Islamic one, before setting fire to the building.

A similar assault on the US embassy in Tunis resulted in four deaths, according to medics. Protests over the film began on Tuesday in Egypt and Libya, where the US ambassador was among four Americans killed in Benghazi.

Demonstrations spread

In Indonesia on Saturday hundreds of protesters from the Hizb ut-Tahrir religious organization gathered in Surabaya and Malang in the East Java province, to protest against the film, titled "Innocence of Muslims."

Police restrain protestors in Sydney's central business district. Photo: REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

Protestors clashed with police in central Sydney

"We must not stay quiet. The Prophet Muhammad is insulted. This is a cruel insult," a demonstrator told those gathered. Protesters responded with calls to punish the film's director with death.

Several hundred people also marched in Sydney, Australia, before gathering outside the US consulate and throwing rocks and bottles at police.

Police used dogs and pepper spray as they tried to control the protest. They later said six officers had been injured and eight protesters arrested.

Screening opposed in Germany

The German news magazine Der Spiegel has quoted German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich as saying that he would use "every legal means" to stop a screening of the film intended by an extremist far-right political party, Pro Deutschland.

Ruprecht Polenz wearing headset in front of DLR microphone. Photo: Romania Romaniec, DW 24.5.2011

Polenz has spoken out against the video and attempts to show it

The governing Christian Democrats' foreign policy spokesman, Ruprecht Polenz, told Germany's Deutschlandfunk public radio on Saturday that German prosecutors should examine the film for violating German law against offending religious belief.

Freedom of speech is not boundless, Polenz said, even though free and satirical scrutiny of religion is allowed in art in Germany.

"But this film does not do this. It is a pure hate video against Islam and against Muslims," Polenz said.

He said the intention stated by the far-right group on its website to show the video in Berlin is "absolutely irresponsible" because such a showing could, he said, endanger German citizens and institutions abroad.

jr, ipj/ccp, ch (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa, epd)

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