Film fans flames of violence across the region

Basil El-Dabh
9 Min Read
Rioters clash with security services near the US embassy in Cairo Hassan Ibrahim / DNE


Rioters clash with security services near the US embassy in Cairo Hassan Ibrahim / DNE
Rioters clash with security services near the US embassy in Cairo
Hassan Ibrahim / DNE


By midday Saturday, clashes between protesters and police that involved rocks and tear gas seemed to have subsided. Reports indicate that clashes in Cairo resulted in two deaths. One of those killed was a 35 year old named Ismail Rashad, who was killed on Friday. The clashes left over 200 injured and more than 260 arrested. Police cleared Tahrir Square on Saturday morning following four days of protesting against the controversial film. Police arrested numerous people in the square and area leading to the US embassy and cracked down on the sporadic clashes that had taken place between young protesters and security forces around the US embassy and Qasr Al-Nil Bridge.

The security forces also cleared the square of vendors and tents, which had been occupying the square before protests had been initiated.



The Pentagon announced on Friday that it deployed a Marine Corps antiterrorism security team consisting of 50 soldiers to Yemen to help secure the United States embassy in Sana’a. Department of Defense spokesman George Little told reporters that there were no immediate plans to evacuate the embassy and the deployment of troops stood as a “precautionary measure,” intended to reinforce security. The decision came after angry demonstrators clashed with security forces outside the embassy, resulting in four deaths on Thursday with police firing live rounds and tear gas into crowds of protesters.  Demonstrators reportedly burned American flags, tyres, and destroyed property in the vicinity of the embassy.

In a statement to US President Barack Obama, Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi apologised for the attack on the mission, and ordered a speedy investigation to find those who instigated the fatal clashes.

“Those who are behind [the attack] are a mob that are not aware of the far-reaching plots of Zionist forces, especially those who made a film insulting the prophet,” the Yemeni president said according to AFP.

Al-Qaeda’s branch in Yemen lauded the killing of US Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens on Saturday in a statement, calling for more attacks on US missions in Muslim nations.



FBI investigators have delayed their trip to Benghazi until conditions are safer. Both American and Libyan officials are investigating the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed US ambassador John Christopher Stevens and three American security personnel; Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, and Sean Smith. Ten Libyan security officials who were defending the consulate were also killed in the deadly attack that overwhelmed the existing security presence.

Libyan authorities have identified 50 people who allegedly took part in the attack. “Four have been arrested. Some of the others may have escaped via Benghazi airport, maybe to Egypt, but this is not confirmed. We have given their names to all of the Libyan border entry points,” said spokesman for Libya’s Supreme Security Committee Abdel-Moneim Al-Hurr according to Reuters.

Although reports surfaced indicating that the Obama administration suspected the Benghazi attack was premeditated, a spokesman for the president indicated that the government had no evidence indicating a planned operation.

However, the Libyan government believes that those who attacked the consulate are members of armed extremist groups that have gained strongholds in eastern Libya in an effort to drive a wedge between western powers and the fledgling Libyan democracy.



Thousands of protesters in Bahrain assembled in the capital city of Manama and across other urban hubs throughout the country, as demonstrators burned Israeli and American flags. Bahrain’s foreign ministry denounced the film, calling on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation to act against those who made the film, and hold those in charge of doing so accountable.



Tunisia’s ruling Ennahda Party condemned the film and the subsequent violence that killed four demonstrators in Tunis and injured 49, according to the Ministry of Health. According to AP, the youth wing of Ennahda blamed “enemies of the revolution” for turning peaceful protests violent in an effort to divide the country. “We call on the youth and on all Tunisians to maintain vigilance and unity in order to prevent all attempts at sowing divisions and halting the revolution,” read the statement.

Protesters did not reach the US embassy itself, but set fire to the nearby American Cooperative School and ransacked the surrounding area. Demonstrators also managed to storm the compound containing the US embassy in Tunis, and took down the American flag, replacing it with the black flag carrying the Muslim profession of faith. Police responded with live ammunition and tear gas, as embassy staff were evacuated from the premises.

Tunisian Interior Minister Ali Larayedh apologised for the violence and destruction on national television and announced that an investigation into the clashes had been initiated.



Lebanese officials claimed one protester had died and 25 injured in clashes with police over the offensive film. Demonstrators torched a KFC and Arby’s in Tripoli on Friday, calling for the removal of the US ambassador to Lebanon. On Saturday the Lebanese army took security measures to guard government buildings and American fast food chains in the northern city and throughout other parts of the country.



Sudan rejected a request from the United States to send Marines to reinforce security around its embassy on Saturday. While the US announced its intentions to deploy Marines on Friday, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Kari told state-owned SUNA, “Sudan is able to protect the diplomatic missions in Khartoum and the state is committed to protecting its guests in the diplomatic corps.” Demonstrators in Khartoum stormed the US and German embassies in the Sudanese capital and raised black Islamic flags in both compounds on Saturday, while also demonstrating nearby the British mission. Police responded to protesting with tear gas and batons. Two protesters in Sudan died.



Demonstrators in Australia clashed with police in downtown Sydney on Saturday, as security forces used tear gas and police dogs to disperse hundreds that took to the streets in response to the film. The demonstration reportedly began outside the US consulate in Sydney, as protesters made their way through the centre of the city. According to Reuters, six officers were injured and eight protesters arrested.



Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in front of the US consulate in Morocco with heavy armed police presence standing in the way of the complex. Protests were peaceful and no deaths or serious injuries were reported.



Police reportedly fired in the air in the presence of protesters in Jos, where young protesters had gathered on Friday and burned an American flag. The Nigerian city has been the site of ethnic and religious violence in recent years.

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