News / Middle East

Protests Spread Over Anti-Islam Film

Muslim demonstrators hold banners during a protest in front of the U.S. embassy in Bangkok September 18, 2012.
Muslim demonstrators hold banners during a protest in front of the U.S. embassy in Bangkok September 18, 2012.
VOA News
Hundreds of protesters rioting against an anti-Islam film torched a press club and a government building Monday in northwest Pakistan, sparking clashes with police that left at least one person dead.

Demonstrations also turned violent outside a U.S. military base in Afghanistan and at the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia. Meanwhile, the leader of the Shi'ite militant group Hezbollah called for sustained protests in a rare public appearance before thousands of supporters at a rally in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah accused U.S. spy agencies of being behind events that have unleashed a wave of anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim and Arab world.

  • On a road leading to the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, protesters shout slogans against the anti-Islam film made in the U.S. mocking the Prophet Muhammad, September 21, 2012.
  • Afghan university students burn a U.S. flag in the Surkhrod district of Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, September 19, 2012.
  • Protesters use sticks to smash the windscreen and windows of a car during an anti-America protest march in Islamabad September 20, 2012.
  • A protester covers his face in front of tear gas during clashes with riot police along a road at Kornish El Nile leading to the U.S. embassy, near Tahrir Square in Cairo, September 15, 2012.
  • Pakistani police officers stand guard as Pakistani lawyers chant slogans near the area that houses the U.S. Embassy and other foreign missions in Islamabad, Pakistan, September 19, 2012.
  • A riot policeman keeps watch during a demonstration in Kabul, September 21, 2012.
  • Kashmiri medical students protest against the anti-Islam film in Srinagar, India, September 19, 2012.
  • A Muslim man holds up a placard during a protest against the anti-Islam film in Jammu, India September 21, 2012.
  • Muslim demonstrators are seen through a flag as they shout anti-U.S. slogans during a protest in Chennai, September 18, 2012.
  • Pakistani activists of the hard line Sunni party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) burn a US flag during a protest against an anti-Islam movie in Peshawar, September 18, 2012.
  • Muslim demonstrators hold a defaced poster of U.S. President Barack Obama during an anti-U.S. protest in Chennai, September 18, 2012.
  • Protesters set fire to trees in the U.S. Embassy compound in Tunis September 14, 2012. 
The protests followed demonstrations and violence in about 20 countries since last Tuesday when the American ambassador in Libya and three of his staff were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as protests spread from neighboring Egypt.

Monday's protests in Pakistan's Upper Dir district, in the country's northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, involved about 800 people. Other violent demonstrations also broke out in Karachi, Pakistan's commercial hub, and in Lahore, where protesters threw rocks at police and burned an American flag near the U.S. consulate.

Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf ordered YouTube blocked in the country so the "blasphemous" film could not be viewed after the video-sharing website refused to remove the video.

In Afghanistan, hundreds of demonstrators burned tires and shipping containers while throwing stones at police and buildings in the capital, Kabul - the first significant violence in that country over a crude, American-made film that mocks the Prophet Muhammad. Protesters shouted "Death to America" and burned U.S. and Israeli flags. At least two police cars were set ablaze.

Anti-U.S. Protests Timeline:

  • September 11: Protesters attack U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt and U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americas are killed
  • September 12: Anti-U.S. protests spread to several Arab countries.
  • September 13: Protesters storm U.S. embassy compound in Sana'a, Yemen
  • September 14: Protests spread further across Africa, Asia and the Middle East
  • September 15: US orders non-essential personnel and families of diplomats out of Tunisia and Sudan
  • September 16: A protester dies during a clash with police in Pakistan
  • September 17: A protester dies during a clash with police in Pakistan
About 50 Afghan policemen sustained light injuries attempting to quell the violence, but commanders said they eventually managed to control the crowd. A number of Afghan elders and religious leaders urged calm.

In Jakarta, hundreds of Indonesians angered over the film clashed with police outside the U.S. Embassy, hurling rocks and firebombs, and setting tires alight outside the mission. Protesters there also burned U.S. flags and a picture of U.S. President Barack Obama. The actions marked the first significant violence seen in the world's largest Muslim-majority country since international outrage over the film exploded last week.

Also Monday, a hardline Tunisian Salafist leader escaped from a mosque that had been surrounded by security forces seeking to arrest him over clashes at the U.S. Embassy last week. Seif-Allah Ben Hassine, leader of the Tunisian branch of the Islamist Ansar al-Sharia, slipped away after hundreds of his followers stormed out of al-Fatah mosque in the capital, Tunis.

Western embassies in central Kabul, including the U.S. and British missions, were placed on lockdown and violence flared near fortified housing compounds for foreign workers. Rallies also took place Sunday in London, Australia, Turkey and Pakistan, showing the global scale of the outrage.

Washington has sent ships, extra troops and special forces to protect U.S. interests and citizens in the Middle East, while a number of its embassies have evacuated staff and are on high alert for trouble.

The U.S. says it will close its embassy in Bangkok on Tuesday because of a large planned demonstration against the film.

Iranian officials said Monday they would hunt down those responsible for making the video. The low-budget film, The Innocence of Muslims, depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester, among other overtly insulting claims.

The man who allegedly is behind the obscure, private film was questioned Saturday by U.S. authorities in California.

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by: Talha from: Faisalabad
September 19, 2012 7:30 AM
The bulk of the Western world supports blocking the publication of the topless pictures of Princess Kate, out of decency to her and the Royal Family. There are hardly any voices clamoring for the 'freedom' to publish such photos, and those that have published them are being taken to court. And I agree, such photos shouldn't be published.

But people need to realize that Muslims world respect their Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) more than the British respect their monarchy. Just like they have their standards of decency, we have ours.

Ultimate and unconditional freedom of speech does not exist in any country in the world.
And while I do understand that it's unlikely that religious mockery will ever be banned in America, I can't help but say that I wish it were.

In Response

by: TheDibs
September 19, 2012 4:55 PM
Not certain if the context of your comparison is correct, as the Muslim approach to their religious figures is essentially a violence-ridden zeal, whereas the British are normally prone to dry sarcasm and the occasional spot of humor.

By now, it's already too late for the pictures to be taken down given the existence of a form of mass media popularly known as the "Internet." I've heard good things about it.


by: john from: german
September 18, 2012 9:52 PM
just because you're not satisfied with the video, so you begin the suicide attacks to kill people, even kill your own brethren. Is this the faith the islam advocates? Is this the result Mahomet want to see? in the name of himself to spread the killing ? Is this the "peaceful " and "tolerant" religion you're saying?

In Response

by: sadaf from: india
September 20, 2012 5:43 AM
you are right just because some devil has made film to disrespect our beloved prophet (peace be upon him) dose not justify the killing of other innocent people .in no way dose Islam encourage this.Islam is a religion of peace.for those doing suicide attacks on innocent people i am sure Allha and his messenger will not be happy with them . we condemn these attacks .we should find the culprit and punish him.he is already in hell for waging war against Allha and prophet .


by: Y. Violence? from: UK
September 18, 2012 9:20 AM
I just don't get it. Why go to all the time, effort and embarrassment of staging a protest against an entire country for the actions of one deranged and angry man? I'm sure nobody in the US had ever heard of this so-called filmmaker, yet the Muslim world is killing Americans because of these protests. Why don't you protest this vehemently against terrorist attacks? Slavery? Killing innocent civilians? Famine? Disease? Dictators? Piracy? Pollution? The desecration and twisting of your holy words and concepts by Al-Quada? Get angry at those who are TRULY doing wrong. Don't get so wrapped up in a perceived slight against your holy man that you lose sight of who the true enemies of this world are. Come on! A MOVIE TRAILER? Are you serious? You-Tube is host to thousands of videos that show real-life atrocities happening every day. Open your eyes, close your ears to the rantings of a certain few and make your own decisions about the TRUE threat to your way of life; terrorists, hate-mongers, religious zealots and bigots.

In Response

by: Timothius from: USA
September 18, 2012 1:16 PM
@Kenya,

Sorry mate! You seemed to have missed the point!

In Response

by: Y. Violence? from: UK
September 18, 2012 12:55 PM
@Kenya. So, you're saying that it's worth killing people over a film that isn't even true versus getting angry and protesting against killing innocents, indiscriminate bombings, slavery, famine, etc., etc? Aren't these things worthy of outrage? Aren't these things a direct attack on Muslim beliefs? Why should the content of this film have such a direct bearing on their lives when so much else is wrong in this world? Can you see why we are all confused and upset? It doesn't make any sense. As for my religion, I am taught to treat others as I would be treated. That does not include harming or killing others. If you truly have faith in your religion, you needn't resort to violence to express your beliefs.

In Response

by: Kenya from: Nairobi
September 18, 2012 11:24 AM
i think you are unaware of what is going with the film. It is faith of muslims that is being condemned. Do u have faith in your religion? and if so, the Muslim world tend to defend for what they see as blasphemy.


by: RB from: Florida
September 18, 2012 8:18 AM
The 15 minute video was made produced by an Egyptian Coptic Christian who lost his Egyptian citzenship from anti-islam language and is a convicted felon living in the US on probation. For Muslims to react around the world killing US diplomat in Libya we helped liberate from Quadaffi, Egypt we told Murabarak to leave power, NATO soldiers helping protecting Afghans from the brutal Taliban shows that these people have to be the absolute dumbest, unappreciative and dangerous on the planet. Why don't they protest Egyptian Coptic Christians, they protest the US becuse the guy lived in Califorinia. They accuse Israel and the US because they do not listen to facts, only their deep seated hatred. There has to be something inherently wrong with a religion that provokes people to kill other human beings because a film producer was living in a country. If they had nuclear weapons they would blow up the world because they felt offended one day, only shows how moronic and depraved of morality they are.


by: Ed from: Buffalo, NY
September 18, 2012 8:17 AM
Been there, done that, coming out of the “peaceful” world of Islam. We saw what transpired when an editorial cartoon depicting their prophet Mohammed was published and we are seeing this madness…again!

Come on people! Is this really about cartoons and a video? These people are rampaging and burning flags. They're looking for westerners to beat and kidnap. They're threatening pretty much anybody that doesn’t buy into their cult ideology and are generally raising holy hell not because of any outrage over a stupid video. These Muslims are outraged because it is part of the Islamic jihadist culture to be outraged!!

You don't really need a reason. You just need an excuse. Wandering around, destroying property, murdering the innocent, firing guns into the air and feigning outrage over the slightest perceived insult is to a jihadist what tailgating is to a football fan.

Isn’t it about time to tell these people where to go??


by: BB from: NYC
September 18, 2012 8:08 AM
I dont get it several years ago muslim countries declaired Jihad on america and death to all american. America retaliated because America was attacked, just like our american consulate, a loss of three thousand or three is a loss. How about this instead of war, why dont America pull out of those countries (obviously they dont want us there) and take our money, business and exports and imply sanctions not to do business there. America can produce it's own oil (america needs the jobs) through the gulf coast, alaska pipeline and fracturing. Leave them alone to fend for themselves and they will come running back with a different attitude when they are ready.

In Response

by: Mohsin from: DHIRKO AJK
September 19, 2012 5:04 AM
u r wrong the Gulf and Asia has so much resources which America dont hve,,, thats y he wants to be here and snatch our money,,, we hate Americans,,, leave our land immediately and dont ever try to mock our relign,,, understand,,,


by: aj from: chicago
September 18, 2012 8:07 AM
The whole talk of freedom of speech is hypocritical because now in California, if you criticize ISRAEL , you are breaking the law. It is amazing that a foreign country takes priority over Americans expressing their discontent with Israel.


by: Sue from: Tampa
September 18, 2012 7:59 AM
Has anyone here seen the video on You Tube? It's more like a Mel Brooks "Springtime for Hitler" movie...or Leslie Neilsen "Airplane".
It's a PARODY...ok, it's in bad taste and offensive if you are uber religious but doesn't the killing or calling for killings go against Islam and the Koran and the teachings of Mohammed the prophet?


by: LeRoy Padmore from: Jersey City,Nj
September 17, 2012 11:26 PM
When America came under attacked in Libya and Egypt,The Government that America help to put in power did not do nothing to protect to protect our facility nor stopped the killing of our Ambassador and his staff.Mr Morsi never came up to condemn the attacked on our facility in their country,and it is a bind duty of government to protect any foreign service or diplomats with in their country.likewise the new Libyan president.those muslim country hate America and Israel,we need to face this truth.they are not our friends and they only pretend cause they need our money.and there is nothing peaceful about them.if what we are watching is peaceful,then peace has turn into war.if this is love as Madam Clinton thinks,then love has turn into hate.we as American need to face this truth,the Muslim country don't like us.God Bless America


by: Brandt Hardin from: Nashville
September 17, 2012 8:28 PM
Well over a decade since 9/11, bigotry and racial intolerance have engulfed our country when Lady Liberty is supposed to hold her arms open and embrace all world cultures. Anti-Islamic and Muslim rhetoric have filled our political halls and been laid out as the basis for never-ending wars and distress in the Middle East. We’re taught as a nation to fear these people and wage a race war of hate and discrimination against them. Read more about Living in a Society of Fear and the dangers we bring upon ourselves through this small-minded detestation at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/09/living-in-society-of-fear-ten-years.html

In Response

by: I.B. from: France
September 18, 2012 7:58 AM
9/11 was REAL. The reaction to it is based upon reality not bigotry. Islamic hatred for Western values is real. When 3000 innocent people are killed in New York then fear has a basis in reality. You in contrast have completely lost the plot in your understanding of events and circumstances.

In Response

by: SuziSaul from: NJ
September 18, 2012 7:44 AM
Bigotry and racial intolerance? You must be talking about the recent poll done that says 0% of black people are voting for Romney.

Ooooh no, you're talking to anti-islam! We're "taught" to fear? No, we're seeing the images, and hearing their words (KILL AMERICANS) and we loathe them. I didn't think anything of Muslims until 9/11.

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