Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, believed to be the key person behind the anti-Islam movie that inflamed protests across the globe, is escorted out of his home by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s officers in Cerritos, California, yesterday.Photo: Reuters
The fury over an anti-Islam film targeting American diplomatic missions has spread to include a number of other Western facilities in the Muslim world, raising the spectre Saturday of a widening protest.
Attacks on German and British embassies in Sudan, the ransacking of an American school in Tunisia, a fire at a US-based fast-food restaurant in Lebanon and attacks against multi-national peacekeepers in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula were among the latest targets in protests that turned violent.
As violence escalates in Arab and Muslim worlds, Dhaka condemns the release of the film, “The Innocence of Muslims”, saying the video is not only offensive, but also reprehensible, reports our correspondent.
“Bangladesh is concerned that some have tried to defend such offensive material on the pretext of freedom of expression. Inciting hatred cannot be justified citing freedom of expression,” a foreign ministry statement said yesterday.
“Such disregard for the religious sensitivity of Muslims, or of any faith, cannot constitute civilised behaviour and must not be condoned.”
Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI urged Middle Eastern Christians and Muslims to forge a harmonious, pluralistic society in which the dignity of each person is respected and the right to worship in peace is guaranteed.
Speaking to political and religious leaders on the second day of a three-day trip to Lebanon, he stressed that people must repudiate vengeance, acknowledge their own faults and offer forgiveness to each other.
Meeting the pontiff at the presidential palace, the mufti or spiritual leader of Lebanon’s Sunni Muslims told Pope that he would consider “any attack on a Christian as an attack on all Muslims.”
Mohammed Rashid Kabbani added that he also considered “any attack on a church as equivalent to an attack on mosque, because our religion prohibits us from doing so.”
Kabbani’s remarks were included in a letter he handed to the pope, as the pontiff also met leaders of the Shia, Druze and Alawite communities, reports AFP.
Meanwhile, insurgents have attacked Nato’s heavily fortified Camp Bastion base in southern Afghanistan.
At least two US marines died when militants breached the perimeter of the sprawling base in Helmand province.
The Taliban told the BBC that they carried out the attack in revenge for a film mocking Islam which has triggered protests around the Muslim world.
The UK’s Prince Harry began a second tour of duty at the base just over a week ago, but is said to be unharmed.
Top Western diplomats warned leaders in countries where the unrest has been most pronounced to ensure the protection of its missions and its people.
“I am following the unfolding events with grave concern and call on national authorities in all countries concerned to swiftly ensure the security of diplomatic mission and protect diplomatic staff,” Catherine Ashton, the European Union foreign affairs chief, said in a statement.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took it one step further, reports CNN. She warned that the United States would take action to protect its diplomatic facilities if the countries in question did not stop the violence and seek justice for the attacks.
From Morocco to Malaysia, thousands of Muslims have taken to the streets in recent days — with sometimes deadly results — over the release of the video.
Despite the firm condemnation by US government officials, some in the Muslim world — especially those raised in regimes in which the government must authorize any film production — cannot accept that a movie like “Innocence of Muslims” can be produced without being sanctioned by Washington, said Council of Foreign Relations scholar Ed Husain.
The demonstrations, notably, haven’t all been violent and the protesters represent only a fraction of their respective nations’ populations: A few thousands, for example, clashed with security forces outside the US embassy in Cairo, in a city of more than 18 million people.
But protests that have turned violent have led to a number of deaths — including those of the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans killed in an attack Tuesday in Benghazi, Libya.
At least six people were killed and dozens wounded in the clashes across the Muslim world that followed.
CLASH IN AUSTRALIA
Australia became the latest nation to cope with protests as hundreds of demonstrators clashed with police Saturday outside the US consulate in Sydney.
The demonstration turned violent after protesters were pushed back from the building by police.
Authorities used tear gas and police dogs to disperse protesters who threw bottles and shoes — considered a grave insult among Muslims, according to witnesses and police video.
At least four people were injured, including a police officer who was hit in the face with a bottle, according to witnesses and authorities.
Here’s a breakdown of events Saturday around the globe:
In Egypt’s northern Sinai, a large number of security forces backed by tanks regained control of a base housing an international peacekeeping force that was breached Friday by Islamist militants, state-run EGYnews reported yesterday.
The militants carrying automatic weapons burned trucks and a watch tower on the base. The armed clashes injured at least four troops and an Islamist Bedouin.
The 1,500-troop mission has supervised the security of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty since 1979.
In the Egyptian capital of Cairo, large numbers of police were patrolling the streets following clashes shortly after dawn Saturday between protesters and plain-clothes security officers.
In Tunisia, authorities warned yesterday the death toll may climb following Friday’s attack on the US Embassy in Tunis that left two dead.
The German and British embassies in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, shored up their security after protesters managed to get inside a compound that is shared by both diplomatic missions, according to the foreign ministers of both nations.