CAIRO (AP) — Angry protests over an anti-Islam film spread across the Muslim world today, with demonstrators scaling the walls of U.S. embassies in Tunisia and Sudan, torching part of a German embassy and clashing with security forces at an American fast-food restaurant that was set ablaze in northern Lebanon.
Egypt’s new Islamist president went on national TV and appealed to Muslims to not attack embassies, denouncing the violence earlier this week in Libya that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador. Mohammed Morsi’s first public move to restrain protesters after days of near silence appeared aimed at repairing strains with the United States over this week’s violence.
Police in Cairo prevented stone-throwing demonstrators from nearing the U.S. Embassy, firing tear gas and deploying armored vehicles to push them back in a fourth day of clashes in the Egyptian capital.
The day of protests, which spread to around 20 countries, started small and mostly peacefully in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The most violent demonstrations took place in the Middle East. In many places, only a few hundred took to the streets, mostly ultraconservative Islamists — but the mood was often furious.
The demonstrators came out after weekly Friday Muslim prayers, where many clerics in their mosque sermons called on congregations to defend their faith, denouncing the obscure movie produced in the United States that denigrated the Prophet Muhammad.
Several thousand demonstrators protested outside the US Embassy in Tunis and battled with security forces, throwing stones as police fired volleys of tear gas and shot in the air. Some protesters scaled the embassy wall and stood on top of it, planting a black flag with the Islamic profession of faith, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.”
Police chased them off the wall and took the flag down. Tunisia’s official news agency says two people have died and 29 others have been injured in protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Tunis.
State news agency TAP says both people killed were demonstrators, while the injured include protestors and police.
More violence came in Sudan, where 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.
Soon after, several hundred Sudanese stormed into the German Embassy, setting part of an embassy building aflame along with trash bins and a parked car. Protesters danced and celebrated around the burning barrels as palls of black smoke billowed into the sky until police firing tear gas drove them out of the compound.
Some then began to demonstrate outside the neighboring British Embassy, shouting slogans.
Several thousand then moved on the American Embassy, on the capital’s outskirts. They tried to storm the mission, clashing with Sudanese police, who opened fire on some who tried to scale the compound’s wall. It was not clear whether any protesters made it into the embassy grounds.
The police then launched giant volleys of tear gas to disperse the crowd, starting a stampede.