Monitoring the massive protests that continue to spread to various cities and localities in the Middle East is a tough task, as the response continues to grow exponentially. Islamists and others who find themselves immensely offended over a now-infamous anti-Muslim film have taken to the streets to target U.S. interests and defend their faith, sometimes using violent means to do so.
On Friday, protests in the Middle East hit Tunis, Tunisia, where a large cloud of black smoke has risen around the U.S. embassy there. Outside the building, protesters are throwing stones, as police attempt to stop the activity unfolding.
Thousands of demonstrators massed outside the embassy and several were seen climbing the outer wall of the embassy grounds and raising a flag on which was written the Muslim profession of faith, an Associated Press reporter on the scene says. “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet,” the flag purportedly read.
Police responded by firing tear gas, and police gunfire could be heard. A live feed of the event can be viewed here. The latest events in Tunisia represent only a sliver of the anti-American sentiment that is running rampant in the Middle East.
Protesters also smashed into the German Embassy in the Sudanese capital and set part of it on fire. Part of the embassy building was also in flames, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle told reporters in Berlin. “Fortunately… the employees are safe,” he said.
Also in Sudan, a prominent sheik on state radio urged protesters to march on the German Embassy to protest alleged anti-Muslim graffiti on mosques in Berlin and then to the U.S. Embassy to protest the film.
“America has long been an enemy to Islam and to Sudan,” Sheik Mohammed Jizouly said.
In addition to burning the embassy, protesters burned a car parked behind its gates and setting fire to trash cans. They danced and celebrated around the burning barrels, as palls of black smoke billowed into the sky.
One protester was killed in Tripoli, Lebanon, in clashes with security forces, after a crowd of protesters set fire to a KFC and an Arby’s restaurant. Protesters hurled stones and glass at police in a furious melee that left 25 people wounded, 18 of them police.
And in east Jerusalem, Israeli police stopped a crowd of around 400 Palestinians from marching on the U.S. consulate to protest the film. Demonstrators threw bottles and stones at police, who responded by firing stun grenades. Four protesters were arrested.
Very few protesters have shown up in Malaysia so far, Business Insider reports. That being said, some have arrived and are chanting “God is great” outside the embassy walls. Pamphlets that are being distributed are also calling for the U.S. government to punish the individuals who made the film.
The situation in Indonesia, too, was tense, with 350 Muslims showing up to hold an anti-U.S. rally today in Jakarta. The overall sentiment was anger over the film and claims that its creation was a “declaration of war.” Abram Online has more:
More than 350 Muslim fundamentalists and their supporters staged an anti-US demonstration in Jakarta Friday, spewing anger at America over an anti-Islam film.
Outside the US embassy in the Indonesian capital, the protesters — men and women with children in tow — carried banners that read “We condemn the insult against Allah’s messenger”, and the Koranic verse “There is no God but Allah”.
A speaker from the pro-Caliphate organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir that organised the protest, told the crowd: “This film insulted our prophet and we condemn it. The film is a declaration of war.”
The crowd shouted back: “Allahu akbar!” (God is greatest), while police clad in riot gear stood guard nearby.
India, too, was impacted by the demonstrations. In Kashmir, 15,000 protesters gathered to protest against the video — supposedly the largest of any other protest thus far. Business Insider has more:
Al Arabiya reports 86 have been arrested.
The State Department and Indian officials are calling for all U.S. citizens to remain out of the city, and if they’re visiting the city now, to leave as soon as possible.
Local authorities there have put about five “separatist leaders” on house arrest, a common tactic during civil unrest.
“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,” said a statement from the Jamat-e-Islami, the biggest Islamic group in Kashmir.
After standing aside earlier this week in the face of protesters, security forces in Yemen and Egypt fired tear gas and clashed with protesters Friday to keep them away from U.S. embassies.
Security forces in Yemen 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. Though outnumbered by protesters, security forces were able to keep the crowd about a block away from the mission.
A day earlier, hundreds of protesters chanting “death to America” stormed the embassy compound in Sanaa and burned the American flag. The embassy said nobody was harmed. Yemen’s president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, quickly apologized to the United States and vowed to track down the culprits.
Protests were held in cities from Tunisia to Pakistan after weekly Friday Muslim prayers, where many clerics in their mosque sermons called on congregations to defend their faith, denouncing obscure movie produced in the United States that denigrated the Prophet Muhammad.
“Additional protests were reported in Jalalabad, Afghanistan; Islamabad, Pakistan; Bangladesh; Istanbul, Turkey; Lebanon; the West Bank and Gaza; Kuwait; Bahrain; Syria; Iran; and outside the U.S. Embassy in London, where around 120 demonstrators burned American and Israeli flags,” CBS News reports.
The numbers were not huge – in most places, only a few hundred took to the streets, mostly ultraconservative Islamists – but the mood was often furious.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.