Film protests spread in Arab world | News | DW | 13.09.2012
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Film protests spread in Arab world

Uproar in response to an anti-Islam film is spreading, with US embassies in several Arab countries seeing protests. Meanwhile, a possible al Qaeda connection to Tuesday's deadly embassy violence is under investigation.

One person was killed by police in demonstrations at the US embassy in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, on Thursday. Several others were wounded when police used water cannons and live ammunition to deter the crowd of several hundred who had overrun the embassy.

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Mob attacks US embassy in Yemen

At the US embassy in Cairo, where Tuesday's angry protests first started, the Health Ministry announced that 16 people were injured when tear gas was used against protesters there.

Egypt's Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, condemned the film that had caused such offense, but also condemned the violence.

"It is our duty to protect our guests and visitors from abroad," Morsi said. "I call on everyone to take that into consideration, not to violate Egyptian law ... not to assault embassies."

Demonstrations have also been held in Bangladesh, the Gaza Strip, Iraq, and Iran.

'Disgusting and reprehensible'

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tried to distance the American government from the film in an effort to curb the violent reactions.

"The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message," Clinton said ahead of a meeting with Moroccan officials in Washington on Thursday. "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."

The film in question is called "Innocence of Muslims." The movie, a seemingly amateur production, portrays Muslims as immoral and violent and shows the Prophet Mohammed sleeping with women and talking about abusing children. Clips of the English-language movie have been available online for weeks, but parts of it dubbed into Arabic were shown on an Egyptian TV channel at the weekend, apparently setting off the protests.

In an effort to keep Afghans from seeing the film, authorities in Kabul have banned YouTube - where the controversial footage was originally seen - until further notice.

"There are more than 40 internet providers [in Afghanistan] and all have been asked to block YouTube," said Aimal Marjan, an official from the communications ministry.

Afghan President Hamid Karzei has cancelled a trip to Oslo that was scheduled for Friday so he can remain at home should there be any trouble.

Google, which owns YouTube, said it had temporarily restricted access to the film in Egypt and Libya. However, since the film adhered to YouTube's guidelines, it would not be completely removed from the site.

Al Qaeda link investigated in Libya

In Libya, four Americans were killed on Tuesday as protests against the film took place at the US consulate in Benghazi. However, US officials are investigating the possibility that the assault was a plot by al Qaeda affiliates or sympathizers who used the protests as a diversion to carry out a coordinated revenge attack on Tuesday's 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

Ambassador Chris Stevens is believed to have died from smoke inhalation after he was trapped in the Benghazi compound when militants fired rocket-propelled grenades. One of the other victims, Sean Smith, was an embassy official. According to American news organization ABC, one of the remaining two people killed was a former Navy SEAL working with the State Department.

Libya is assisting the US in tracking down those responsible for the attack and said on Thursday that some suspects were in custody, without elaborating on details.

mz/dr (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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