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: David from: USA
September 17, 2012 6:30 PM
The map identifies No 4 as being Niger. It is not. It is Nigeria. Niger is the country above it....


by: Mike Cia from: Long Beach CA USA
September 17, 2012 4:20 PM
These people have no life. They are fanatics out of control. If they break laws, arrest or repel them with any force needed. Lets just get out of there & let these ignorant peons destroy themselves.


by: Seán Ó Maoildeirg from: Éire
September 17, 2012 4:04 PM
The short film making fun of Mohammed was made with the intention of stirring up racism and sectarian hatred. It could have been the handiwork of Mossad but it is more likely the work of some stupid racist US Muslim hating Christian extremist. The problem with delaying the charging of somebody is that the delay will add credence to the theory that it is the work of Netanyahu and his Mossad as he tries to influence the US election results.

In Response

by: Paul from: Ohio
September 18, 2012 8:04 AM
Charge them with what? They have broken no laws.
In this country we have the freedom of speech, don't forget that.
This just shows the hatred islam has for any other religion or belief system. Total lack or respect and intolerance. I don't see Christians getting upset when someone depicts Jesus in a bad way, Christians forgive. A muslim's mission in life is to spread their crap any way they can, lying, cheating, murder are all acceptable to achieve their goal, in their eyes it's just OK.. The sooner we learn this and get an AMERICAN president with some backbone, the better off we'll be.

In Response

by: SuziSaul from: USA
September 18, 2012 7:47 AM
Charge them with what, exactly? Please name the law they broke.


by: Tim from: Indiana
September 17, 2012 4:03 PM
I guess their god isn't capable of defending himself...


by: mike Delano from: Slaton Texas
September 17, 2012 4:02 PM
Just great, middle east is falling apart so the president decides to take on China


by: Nanette from: US
September 17, 2012 3:55 PM
I believe this was staged and this film used as a convenient excuse for planned violent worldwide protest on the anniversary of 9/11. It was only a matter of time. There is no truth in this matter.


by: Dan Mazur from: USA
September 17, 2012 3:53 PM
I am so sick and tired of publishers like the VOA stating...in fact headlining...that these riots are due to an Anti-Islam film. The film has absolutely NOTHING to do with these riots. The riots have everything to do with the culture and society that these protests are being held in as well as US Policies in these areas. These riots would have occured over any excuse and this happened to be one that they picked. IF...IF...this film caused these riots, then what does it say about US Policy? It says that all of teh work the US has done over the past 4 years under this administration can be completely obliterated by a silly You Tube video that a private citizen published in California. Are you serious? Give me a break! For the past 4 years, and some could argue longer, the US policy in the Middle East has been a complete failure. The US has been very weak in improving the situation in those regions. Obama's policies are an embarrasment to the US.


by: hurr from: durr
September 17, 2012 3:51 PM
People overreacting over a stupid video?

People overreacting over a stupid video


by: Arthur Larsson from: Arkansas, USA
September 17, 2012 3:39 PM
It was often said that we will never understand the muslim mind. Well they don't understand ours. The very concept that someone could insult the profit, and have every right to do so, even though no-one else thinks that way, is so foreign that violence is the only answer.These are the same people President Bush thought would understand our democracy. They DO NOT.


by: Jim Mooney from: Apache Junction, US
September 17, 2012 3:34 PM
Hey, let's send another billion to our friends in Pakistan while Americans go homeless and hungry, and Congress mulls cutting off food stamps. Tons of money for a terrorist country - nothing for hungry American children. Our Congress at work.

In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
September 17, 2012 6:28 PM
yes, thats right, Tons of TAX money went to terrorist countries and they use it to buy American WEAPONs, and big coperations and US government split the benefits for sure!
Now you americans understand your democracy? I think you need a revolution instead of stoopid election.

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