- Officials report 15 deaths in Pakistani protests
- Pakistani government blocking all cell phone service to prevent detonation of any bombs during the violent demonstrations
- American embassy runs TV advert in Pakistan condemning anti-Muslim film
- Iranian president Ahmadinejad condemns ‘the West’ and freedom of speech
- Germany postpones planned ‘anti-extremists’ poster campaign
PUBLISHED: 05:16 EST, 21 September 2012 | UPDATED: 18:52 EST, 21 September 2012
Pakistani officials say at least 19 people have been killed and more than 200 wounded in clashes between police and people protesting a film that denigrates Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
Officials at two different hospitals, Seemi Jamali and Aftab Channar, say 12 were killed and 82 wounded Friday in the southern port city of Karachi.
Police official Bashir Khan says three others were killed and 61 wounded in the northwest city of Peshawar. Hospital official Tanveer Malik says 25 people were wounded in the capital, Islamabad.
The first confirmed death was Mohammad Amir, a driver for a Pakistani television station, was killed when bullets hit his vehicle in the northwest city of Peshawar, said Kashif Mahmood, a reporter for ARY TV who was also sitting in the car at the time.
Security forces clashed with demonstrators in several other cities in Pakistan on a holiday declared by the government so people could rally against the anti-Islam video.
Thousands of people protested in several other countries, some of them burning American flags and effigies of President Barack Obama.
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The TV channel showed footage of Amir at the hospital as doctors tried to save him. It also showed the windshield of the vehicle, shattered by several gunshots.
Clashes between police and thousands of stone-throwing protesters also occurred in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.
Western diplomatic missions throughout the Muslim world tightened security, with some closing down on expectation of big protests after Friday prayers.
In Iraq, about 3,000 protesters condemned the film and caricatures of the prophet in a French satirical weekly. The protest in the southern city of Basra was organized by Iranian-backed Shiite groups. Some protesters raised Iraqi flags and posters of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, while chanting: ‘Death to America.’
HOW THE ‘DAY OF LOVE’ TURNED INTO A DAY OF HATE ACROSS THE WORLD
Tens of thousands protested against the film around the country after the government encouraged peaceful protests and declared a national holiday – ‘Love for the Prophet Day.’ Demonstrations turned violent and fifteen people were killed, including a driver for a Pakistani television station, who died after police opened fire on rioters torching a cinema in the northwest city of Peshawar during a protest.
About 900 people have gathered for a protest against the film in the capital, Kabul, chanting ‘death to America’ and burning an effigy of President Barack Obama and an American flag. A few hundred demonstrators also protested inside a mosque in the eastern city of Ghazni. The protests were peaceful.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at the West over the film. Speaking during a military parade in Tehran, he said: ‘in return for (allowing) the ugliest insults to the divine messenger, they – the West – raise the slogan of respect for freedom of speech.’
The United States closed its diplomatic missions across Indonesia due to continuing demonstrations over the anti-Islam film. Small and mostly orderly protests were held outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta and in the cities of Surabaya and Medan, along with a couple other smaller towns. No violence was reported.
Thai firemen and rescue workers try to put off the fire caused by the blast of a bomb hidden in a pickup truck in Saiburi district of Pattani province, southern Thailand. Suspected Muslim insurgents have detonated a car bomb in Thailand’s violence-prone south, killing five people and wounding a dozen others.
About 3,000 people, mostly followers of Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim groups, protested against the film and caricatures in the southern city of Basra. Demonstrators carried Iraqi flags and posters of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, chanting ‘death to America’ and ‘no to America’. They burnt Israeli and American flags.
About 2,000 Muslims burned effigies of President Barack Obama and American flags at a protest after Friday prayers in the capital, Colombo, demanding that the United States ban the film.
Over 2,000 people marched through the streets of the capital, Dhaka, to protest the film. They burned a makeshift coffin draped in an American flag, and an effigy of Obama.
Thousands gathered in the Bekaa valley for the latest in a series of protest rallies organized by the Shiite militant group Hezbollah. Protesters carried the yellow Hezbollah flag.
Police enforced a daylong curfew in parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir’s main city, Srinagar, and chased away protesters opposing the anti-Islam film. Authorities in the region also temporarily blocked mobile phone and Internet services to prevent viewing the film clips.
The Interior Ministry said it was postponing a poster campaign aimed at countering radical Islam among young people due to tensions caused by the online video insulting Islam. It said posters for the campaign were meant to go on display in German cities with large immigrant populations on Friday, but are being withheld because of the changed security situation. Germany is home to an estimated 4 million Muslims.
Protests took place outside of the American Embassy in London on Friday, with crowds following the lead of their Middle Eastern counterparts by burning an American flag in protest of the country’s principles. Police stood guard outside of the French Embassy in the British capital as authorities expected protests in the wake of the decision to publish the cartoons of Mohammed.
Protesters burned Israeli and American flags and raised a banner that read: ‘We condemn the offences made against the prophet.’
In the Sri Lanka capital of Colombo, about 2,000 Muslims burned effigies of President Barack Obama and American flags at a protest after Friday prayers, demanding that the United States ban the film. They carried signs and banners near the U.S. Embassy after its normal closing time of noon on Fridays.
In Bangladesh, over 2,000 people marched through the streets of the capital, Dhaka, to protest the film. They burned a makeshift coffin draped in an American flag and an effigy of Obama. They also burned a French flag to protest the publication of the caricatures of the prophet. Small and mostly orderly protests were also held in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Pakistan has experienced nearly a week of violent rallies against the film in which three people have died. The government declared Friday to be a national holiday – ‘Love for the Prophet Day’ – and encouraged people to protest peacefully.
As in past days, most of the protests were led by hardline Islamist groups, and the turnout was relatively small given Pakistan’s population of 190 million people.
At least five protesters were hurt, a doctor at the city’s main hospital said. The ARY television station said an employee had been killed.
The cinema where police opened fire was one of two in Peshawar that several hundred protesters ransacked and set ablaze. They also torched the city’s chamber of commerce. Police beat back demonstrators with batons and firing tear gas and bullets.
In Peshawar, at least 11 people were wounded, including four who were shot, said police officer Imtiaz Khan. They included eight protesters and three policemen.
Near the capital, Islamabad, protesters set fire to a motorway toll booth. The previous day, about 1,000 stone-throwing protesters clashed with police as they tried to force their way to the U.S. embassy.
The government shut down mobile phone services in more than a dozen cities as part of security arrangements ahead of protests expected on Friday to prevent militants from using phones to detonate bombs.
An Interior Ministry official says the service is blocked in at least 15 cities, including Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. The service is scheduled to be resumed at 6pm local time.
Though there were no reports of bombs in Pakistan, Thai firemen and rescue workers try to put off the fire caused by the blast of a bomb hidden in a pickup truck in Saiburi district of Pattani province, southern Thailand. Suspected Muslim insurgents have detonated a car bomb in Thailand’s violence-prone south, killing five people and wounding a dozen others.
In a bid to tamp down public rage over the anti-Islam film, the American embassy in Islamabad is spending $70,000 to air an ad on Pakistani television that features President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denouncing the video.
The advertisement comes as more protests are planned in Muslim countries across the globe, with a ‘special day of love’ for the Prophet Mohammed scheduled in Pakistan.
Officials in the country are bracing themselves for potentially violent protests, blocking all cell phone service in major cities to prevent militants from using phones to detonate bombs.
The anger is not limited to Pakistan or the Innocence of Muslims film, as the Iranian president has lashed out at the West over an anti-Islam film produced in the United States and the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad by a French satirical weekly.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at a military parade that ‘in return for (allowing) the ugliest insults to the divine messenger, they – the West – raise the slogan of respect for freedom of speech.’
Ahmadinejad asserted that this shows a double standard and ‘is clearly a deception.’
The protests stem from the anger caused by the American-made film which have left at least 30 people dead, including two in Pakistan.
The U.S. and French embassies were closed on Friday in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population, and diplomatic missions in the Afghan capital, Kabul, were on lock-down.
Police in Kabul said they had been in contact with religious and community leaders to try to prevent violence.
‘There are some angry demonstrators who will encourage people to violence,’ senior police officer Mohammad Zahir told Reuters. ‘There will also be Taliban influence in demonstrations too and they may attack the U.S. and other embassies.’
About 10,000 Islamists gathered in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, after Friday prayers to chant anti-U.S. and anti-French slogans. They burned those countries’ flags and an effigy of U.S. President Barack Obama.
The cartoons in France’s Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly have provoked relatively little street anger, although about 100 Iranians demonstrated outside the French embassy in Tehran.
Western embassies tightened security in Sanaa, fearing the cartoons could lead to more unrest in the Yemeni capital where crowds attacked the U.S. mission last week over an anti-Islam film made in America.
In Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolts, the Islamist-led government decreed a ban on protests planned on Friday against the cartoons. Four people died and almost 30 were wounded last week when protesters incensed by the movie about the Prophet Mohammad stormed the U.S. embassy.
Deterrents: Protestors tossed tear gas over freight containers set up by police
Condemning the publication of the cartoons in France as an act verging on incitement, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa said on Thursday it showed how polarised the West and the Muslim world had become.
Gomaa said Mohammad and his companions had endured ‘the worst insults from the non-believers of his time. Not only was his message routinely rejected, but he was often chased out of town, cursed and physically assaulted on numerous occasions.
‘But his example was always to endure all personal insults and attacks without retaliation of any sort. There is no doubt that, since the Prophet is our greatest example in this life, this should also be the reaction of all Muslims.’
In Libya, where militias that helped overthrow Muammar Gaddafi still wield much power, the foreign minister offered a further apology for U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens’ death to visiting U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns on Thursday.
Stevens and three other Americans died in an attack on the U.S. consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi by gunmen among a crowd protesting against the film that denigrated the Prophet.
In an effort to make the U.S. government’s disapproval of the film clear, the embassy had compiled brief clips of Obama and Clinton rejecting the contents of the movie and extolling American tolerance for all religions into a 30-second public service announcement that is running on seven Pakistani networks.
Obama and Clinton’s comments, which are from previous public events in Washington, are in English but subtitled in Urdu, the main Pakistani language.
Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the aim was to get the messages to the widest possible audience in Pakistan, where tens of thousands of protestors angry about the film tried to reach the U.S. embassy before being turned back by Pakistani police.
Heated: The protests were intended to be peaceful but that has not stayed true
She said embassy staffers had decided the ads were the best way to spread the word. The seven networks have a potential audience of 90 million people, she added.
‘The sense was that this particular aspect of the president and the secretary’s message needed to be heard by more Pakistanis than had heard, and that this was an effective way to get that message out,’ Ms Nuland told reporters in Washington.
The ads are not running in other countries, she said.
In the ad, Obama is seen talking about America’s tradition of religious tolerance and Clinton is seen saying that the U.S. government had nothing to do with the video that contains vulgar depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.
‘We absolutely reject its content and message,’ Clinton says in the advertisement.
Sponsors: The beginning (left) and end (right) of the clip carry messages showing it is an official ad
A caption on the ad reads: ‘Paid Content’ and it ends with the seal of the American Embassy in Islamabad,
Nuland said it was common practice to pay to air public service announcements in Pakistan and noted that the embassy there had done it at least one other time, in the aftermath of a deadly 2005 earthquake that hit the country.
In an email sent after the ads began running Thursday, the embassy in Islamabad also distributed a link to video of ordinary Americans condemning the anti-Islam film, which appeared on YouTube.
Nuland said that some of the comments on the video had been solicited by the U.S. government from religious leaders and other prominent people in order to demonstrate that anti-Muslim sentiment is not widely shared in the United States.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar defended her government’s decision to declare Friday a holiday to allow people to peacefully protest the video.
She said the so-called ‘day of loving the prophet’ would motivate the peaceful majority to demonstrate their love for Muhammad and not allow extremists to turn it into a show of anger against the United States.
‘We are very confident this will lessen the violence,’ Ms Khar said. But, she acknowledged: ‘There will always be elements that will try to take advantage of these things.’
While American officials are creating ads relating to the religious tensions, their German counterparts are suspending planned campaign.
Germany’s Interior Ministry says it is postponing a poster campaign aimed at countering radical Islam among young people due to heightened tensions caused by an online video insulting the Prophet Muhammad.
The ministry says the campaign promotes a hotline counseling family and friends of young Muslims who have turned to a radical interpretation of Islam.
It says posters for the campaign – in German, Turkish and Arabic – were meant to go on display in German cities with large immigrant populations on Friday but are now being withheld because of the changed security situation.
The ministry said on Thursday the campaign will continue online and in selected magazines.
Germany is home to an estimated 4 million Muslims and authorities have become concerned about home-grown Islamic extremists.