- Friday, Sep. 14, 2012
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- SRINAGAR, India (AP)
Thousands of angry Kashmiri Muslims protested Friday against an anti-Islam film, burning U.S. flags and calling President Barack Obama a "terrorist," while the top government cleric here reportedly demanded Americans leave the volatile Indian-controlled region immediately.
In the southern Indian city of Chennai, protesters threw stones at the U.S. Consulate, shattering some windows and burning Obama in effigy. Police quickly cleared the area, arresting more than 100 protesters. U.S. Embassy officials in Delhi did not immediately comment.
In Bangladesh, about 5,000 hard-line Muslims marched through the streets of the capital, Dhaka, after Friday prayers, burning U.S. and Israeli flags and calling for the arrest and death of the filmmaker. Police prevented them from marching toward the U.S. Embassy, which was several miles away.
The low-budget film "Innocence of Muslims," produced by a filmmaker in the United States, ridicules Islam and depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a madman. American and Middle Eastern leaders have denounced the film and condemned acts of violence by protesters. In Libya, the American ambassador and three other staff members were killed when the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was attacked.
Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir have asked the Indian government to block online clips from the film, the region's top police official Ashok Prasad said Friday.
Across Kashmir, at least 15,000 people took part in more than two dozen protests, chanting "Down with America" and "Down with Israel" in some of the largest anti-American demonstrations against the film in Asia.
U.S. and Israeli flags were burned at many of the protests across the Muslim-majority region. Hundreds of lawyers in the main city of Srinagar stopped work and marched out of court and into the streets in protest. One protester held a poster with Obama's picture and the words "real terrorist."
"The U.S. citizens visiting Kashmir should leave immediately as the sentiments of the Muslims have been hurt by these pictures," Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad, Kashmir's state-appointed cleric, was quoted as telling the Kashmir Reader, an English daily.
In response to the statement, U.S. Embassy officials sent out a message reiterating its call for citizens to stay away from Kashmir, a volatile territory where many oppose India's rule. Police said they were investigating the cleric's statement.
Though many local separatists groups disavowed the threat to Americans, local authorities put five top separatist leaders under house arrest, a common action when protests or violence is expected.
Jamat-e-Islami, Kashmir's biggest Islamic party, demanded the U.S. government crack down on the filmmakers.
"If America is true in its claim of being against any kind of religious blasphemy, then it should lose no time in taking stern action against these enemies of humanity," a statement from the party said.
Meanwhile, in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, about 200 protesters in Jakarta chanted slogans and held up signs in a largely peaceful protest outside the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy. American diplomatic outposts increased security worldwide this week after clips of the film went viral online and sparked violent protests in the Middle East.
"We came here because we want the U.S. to punish whoever was involved with the film," protester Abdul Jabar Umam said. "They should know that we are willing to die to defend the honor of our Prophet."
About 20 protesters outside the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, shouted "Allahu akbar!" and handed reporters a letter addressed to the U.S. ambassador expressing their anger over the movie and calling for greater respect for religions.
Indonesia's government has been working to block access to clips of the film online, and a prominent cleric has urged calm. But others are calling for Muslims worldwide to defend the dignity of the Prophet Muhammad.
Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, a branch of the international network that advocates a worldwide Islamic state and the ones who organized the protest, on its website blamed the U.S. government for allowing the film to be produced and released, calling it "an act of barbarism that cannot go unpunished."
"Why do these people seek problems by disturbing our peace? They knew the risk they were facing by angering people," said Muhammad Al-Khaththath, leader of another hardliner group. "There's only one way to stop our anger: Give the death penalty to the filmmaker and the actors."
Latest developments on anti-Islam film protestsHere's a look at protests across the Middle East and elsewhere on Friday, four days after crowds angry over an anti-Muslim film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad began assaulting a string of U.S. embassies in the region.
LEBANONSecurity forces opened fire in the northeastern Lebanese city of Tripoli, killing one person after a crowd angry over the film set fire to a KFC and a Hardee's restaurant. About 25 people were wounded in the melee, including 18 policemen who were hit with stones and glass.
Several hundred protesters stormed the German Embassy in the capital, Khartoum, burning a car parked behind its gates and trash cans. Police fired tear gas, pushing the protesters outside the embassy's gates. There appeared to be no injuries to embassy staff and no apparent damage to the building. Most protesters dispersed, but a group marched to protest at the nearby British Embassy.
YEMENSecurity forces shot live rounds in the air and fired tear gas at a crowd of around 2,000 protesters trying to march to the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Sanaa. Police kept the crowd about a block away from the embassy. Friday's demonstration came a day after hundreds stormed the embassy compound and burned the American flag.
Riot police clashed with hundreds of protesters blocks away from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, as the president broadcast an appeal to Muslims to protect embassies and tried to patch up strained relations with Washington. After weekly prayers, a crowd in Cairo's Tahrir Square tore up an American flag, and waved a black, Islamist flag. When protesters tried to move toward the embassy, ranks of police confronted them, firing tear gas.
Thousands shouted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" in Tehran in a demonstration after Friday prayers. Some burned the American and Israeli flags. State TV says similar protests were held in other Iranian cities.
More than 2,000 protesters chanted against the film and burned American and Israeli flags after Friday prayers in a Shiite mosque in Diraz, outside the capital, Manama. Security forces were absent, even though the area is a hotbed of opposition in Bahrain's 19-month Shiite-led uprising against the Sunni ruling system. Separately, Bahrain's Interior Ministry ordered media regulators to attempt to block access to the film clip in the Gulf kingdom.
Hundreds demonstrated in Baghdad's northern Sunni neighborhood of Azamaiyah, some shouting: "No, no America! No, no to Israel," and, "We are ready to sacrifice ourselves for our Prophet." Dozens also marched in Baghdad's Sadr City, a poor Shiite area in the capital's northeast. In the southern city of Basra, about 1,000 took to the streets and burned the American and Israeli flags. One banner said: "Freedom doesn't mean offending two billion Muslims."
A crowd of several thousand demonstrators protested outside the US embassy in Tunis. Police respond to stone-throwing with tear gas. An AP reporter on the scene witnessed several people overcome by intense clouds of gas. An army helicopter flew overhead while armored vehicles protected the embassy.
The Israeli police say about 400 people marched toward the U.S. consulate in east Jerusalem in protest over the prophet film. Demonstrators threw bottles and stones at police, who responded by firing stun grenades. Four protesters were arrested and the crowd was prevented from reaching the U.S. consulate.
In the city of Nablus, about 200 people demonstrated against the film as Muslim clerics throughout the territory preached against it in Friday sermons.
SYRIAAbout 200 protesters waved the Syrian flag and shouted anti-American slogans outside the long-closed U.S. Embassy in Damascus. The crowd held banners saying: "He who curses the Prophet doesn't seek democracy" and "a nation whose Prophet is Mohammad, would never kneel down." The U.S. embassy has been closed since February because of the country's bloody conflict that has killed about 23,000 people.
About 1,500 protested in the eastern city of Jalalabad, shouting "Death to America" and urged President Hamid Karzai to cut relations with the U.S.
Hundreds of hardline Muslims held peaceful protests against the film throughout Pakistan, shouting slogans and carrying banners criticizing the U.S. and those involved in the film. Police in Islamabad set up barricades and razor wire to prevent protesters from getting to the diplomatic enclave, where the U.S. Embassy and many other foreign missions are located. Protests were also held in Karachi, Peshawar and Lahore, where protesters shouted "Down with America" and some burned the U.S. flag. About 200 policemen and barbed wire ringed the U.S. Consulate in Lahore.
GREAT BRITAINIn London, around 250 protesters marched noisily but peacefully through Britain's capital to the U.S. embassy. The group, which called itself the "Defenders of The Prophet," held placards denouncing the U.S. and perceived Western imperialism.
Hundreds of people gathered in Istanbul's Beyazit Square to protest the prophet film. The protest was organized by Turkey's main Islamist political party, Saadet.
MALAYSIAAbout 20 protesters held a peaceful demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. They briefly shouted "Allahu akbar!" or God is great, and handed reporters a letter addressed to the American ambassador expressing anger over the movie and calling for greater respect for religions.
Writers Sean Yoong in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.