CAIRO – Clips of a film that stirred a deadly attack on a U.S. mission in Libya show an amateurish production portraying the Prophet Muhammad as a womanizer, a homosexual and a child abuser.
|Protesters destroy American flag pulled down from U.S. embassy in Cairo. REUTERS|
The U.S. pastor Terry Jones, who angered many Muslims with his threat in 2010 to burn the Qur'an, called the film a "satirical" movie on the life of Muhammad. He said he showed a promotional video trailer after staging a symbolic "trial" of the Prophet.
His "International Judge Mohammad Day," flagged on his www.standupamericanow.org website before it took place on September 11 was condemned by Al-Azhar, Egypt's prestigious seat of Islamic learning.
Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church also issued a statement condemning some Copts living abroad who it said financed "the production of a film insulting Prophet Mohammad." The U.S. embassy in Cairo was also a target of demonstration on Tuesday.
Clips of the film, called "Innocence of Muslims," but which has also been given other titles on some sites, had been circulating on the Internet for weeks before protests erupted. Some calls by activists to protest in Egypt had made the link between Jones and the movie.
U.S. media said the film was produced by an Israeli-American property developer. Internet links indicated it was by Sam Bacile, a name that could have Egyptian origins.
According to clips, the movie's first section, set in the modern era, showed an Egyptian Coptic Christian fleeing from an angry Muslim mob. Egyptian police looked on while the mob smashed up a clinic where a Christian doctor worked. Then it showed the doctor talking to his daughter about what makes an "Islamic terrorist."
After that, the clips shifted to historical scenes from the period of the Prophet.
The Prophet is referred to as an illegitimate "bastard," shown as a philanderer with women and portrayed as a homosexual. One scene shows him in an apparent sexual act with one of his wives and later with other women. In another scene, a Christian priest offers to draw up a religious text drawing on verses from the Jewish Torah and Christian New Testament to make them into what he calls "false verses" - an apparent reference to the genesis of the Qur'an. In other scenes, he is portrayed as a bloodthirsty leader, encouraging his followers to loot places they attack and says they can use children in whatever way they wish.
Community organizations condemn attacks on Americans overseas
DEARBORN — The Lebanese American Heritage Club (LAHC), the Michigan Muslim Community Council (MMCC), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the Arab American Institute (AAI), the Arab American Civil Rights League (ACRL) and the American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee (ADC) all issued statements strongly condemning the brutal attacks on the U.S. Emabssy in Libya.
The LAHC said it stands against all of those who continue to preach hatred and intolerance or discriminate on heritage or religion. The statement also read: "On the other hand hatred must be returned with righteousness and love not with criminality and violence. These unjustified attacks against diplomats and innocent civilians will not be tolerated. LAHC extends its deepest condolences to the families of those killed and urges Muslims around the world to always react with wisdom against any ignorant attack on any religion, with intention to create with the intention to promote division and hate among nations."
ADC-MI also issued a statement: "While ADC is committed to the right enshrined in our nation's Constitution of free speech, there is no question that the purposeful provocation of any religious group is divisive and reprehensible. However, responding with violence only plays into the hands of those who seek to divide us and inevitably leads to painful loss. ADC extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends, and colleagues of those killed; and urges Muslim Americans and Muslims around the world to always react with reason, not anger, against any ignorant attack on Islam."
Local mosques including the Islamic House of Wisdom and Islamic Center of America also issued statements condemning the actions of the attackers overseas.
Protesters storm U.S. Embassy in Yemen in new attack
SANAA, Yemen — Chanting "death to America" and "death to Israel," hundreds of protesters angered by an anti-Islam film stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Yemen's capital and burned the American flag on Thursday, the latest in a series of attacks on American diplomatic missions in the Middle East.
The string of assaults this week, in Yemen, Egypt and the storming of a U.S. consulate in Libya that killed four Americans, point to an increased boldness among Islamists who have become more powerful since last year's wave of revolts toppled authoritarian leaders.
The anger over the movie denigrating Islam's Prophet Muhammad has also put the region's new leaders — some of whom are themselves Islamists — in a difficult corner, between a base demanding a free hand to respond to the insult and U.S. pressure to crack down. In the past, protests have broken out over perceived insults to Islam from the West, but in Arab countries they never escalated to the degree of breaching embassies, suggesting now hard-liners feel they can act with impunity.
Yemen's president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, quickly apologized to the U.S. for the embassy attack and vowed to rack down the culprits, just as Libya's president did. Egypt's Islamist President Mohammad Morsi, who had been slow to speak out on Tuesday's assault on the embassy in Cairo, promised Thursday that his government would not allow attacks on diplomatic missions.
U.S. officials suspect the Libya assault may have been a planned terror operation rather than a spontaneous mob assault. While protesters in other countries were unarmed, a crowd bristling with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades overwhelmed the consulate in Benghazi late Tuesday, killing the ambassador and three other Americans.
Protests are also erupting in other countries. In Egypt, protesters clashed with riot police who had pushed them away from the embassy the night before.
In Iraq, several hundred Shi'a hardliners protested in Baghdad's Shi'a stronghold of Sadr City. The leader of an Iranian-backed Shi'a militia that previously attacked U.S. troops, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, threatened anti-U.S. attacks.
The movie "will put all the American interests in Iraq in danger," the militia leader, Qais al-Khazali, told The Associated Press.
In Iran, about 50 protesters shouted, "Death to America," outside the Swiss Embassy, which looks after U.S. diplomatic interests in Iran. Riot police kept the crowd away from the building.
Hundreds converged Thursday on the U.S. Embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, which is heavily barricaded because of past al-Qaeda-linked attacks on the compound. Yemeni guards at checkpoints on roads leading up to the compound did nothing to stop the crowd, said Ahmed Darwish, a witness who was at the scene.
The crowd swarmed over the embassy's entrance gate. Men with iron bars smashed the thick, bullet-proof glass windows of the entrance building while others clambered up the wall. Some ripped the embassy's sign off the outer wall.
Inside the compound grounds, they brought down the American flag in the courtyard and replaced it with a black banner bearing Islam's declaration of faith — "There is no God but Allah." They did not enter the main building housing the embassy's offices, some distance away from the entry reception. Demonstrators set tires ablaze and pelted the compound with rocks.
Yemeni security forces who rushed to the scene fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators, driving them out of the compound after about 45 minutes and sealing off the surrounding streets.
The embassy said nobody was harmed in the attack. "All embassy personnel are safe and accounted for," spokesman Lou Fintor said.
Hadi, the president, offered his "sincere apologies" for the attack and promised to catch those behind it. He said the attack was carried out by a "rowdy crowd" as part of a conspiracy to derail Yemen's close relations with Washington.
The assault appeared to be a copy-cat of the protest Tuesday night at the U.S Embassy in Cairo, when angry youths climbed the walls and brought down the flag, though they largely refrained from any material damage.
Yemen is home to al-Qaeda's most active branch and the United States is the main foreign supporter of the Yemeni government's counterterrorism campaign. The government on Tuesday announced that al-Qaeda's No. 2 leader in Yemen was killed in an apparent U.S. airstrike, a major blow to the terror network.
The spreading violence comes as outrage grows over a movie called "Innocence of Muslims" produced by anti-Islam campaigners in the U.S. that mocked Islam's Prophet Muhammad. The amateurish video was produced in the U.S. and excerpted on YouTube. It depicts Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a madman in an overtly ridiculing way, showing him having sex and calling for massacres.
Egyptian protesters clashed Thursday with police near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Police used tear gas to disperse the protesters and the two sides pelted each other with rocks. But unlike Tuesday, the police kept the protesters away from the embassy's compound.
The Interior Ministry, which is in charge of police, said 16 protesters and 13 policemen were wounded in the clashes, which broke out overnight and were ongoing. Twelve protesters have been arrested, it said.
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, speaking while on a visit to Brussels, vowed on Thursday not to allow attacks on foreign embassies in Cairo, saying the Egyptian people reject such "unlawful acts."
Afghanistan's government, meanwhile, sought to avert any protests as past anger over perceived insults to Islam has triggered violence in the country.
President Hamid Karzai canceled an official visit to Norway and spoke by phone with U.S. President Barack Obama to convey his condolences for the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other diplomats, a statement said. He also discussed the "film and the insulting of holy Islamic values," but the statement provided no other details.
- AP, REUTERS, TAAN