Violence and anger over anti-Muslim film spreads
Protests against an anti-Islam film saw buildings set on fire in Pakistan, violence outside a US military base in Afghanistan and attempts to storm the US embassy in Indonesia yesterday.
The attacks were the latest in a week-long wave of violence sparked by the low-budget short film, which portrays Islam’s Prophet Mohammed as a fraud, a womaniser and a child molester. Many of the protests have targeted US diplomatic posts throughout the Muslim world.
Protesters have directed their anger at the US government even though the film was privately produced and American officials have criticised it for intentionally offending Muslims.
Several hundred demonstrators in Pakistan’s north-west clashed with police after setting fire to a press club and a government building. They apparently attacked the press club in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Upper Dir district because they were angry their rally was not getting more coverage.
Police charged the crowd, beating protesters back with batons, before the demonstrators attacked the office of a senior government official and surrounded a local police station.
One protester died when police and demonstrators exchanged fire and several others were wounded.
The violence came a day after hundreds of protesters clashed with police when they tried to storm the US consulate in the southern city of Karachi. One protester was killed and more than a dozen were wounded.
Pakistanis have also held many peaceful protests against the film.
In neighbouring Afghanistan, hundreds of people burned cars and threw stones at a US military base in the capital, Kabul. Many in the crowd shouted “Death to America!” and “Death to those people who have made a film and insulted our prophet”.
Police officers shot into the air to hold back a crowd of about 800 protesters and prevent them from moving to government buildings downtown.
Later protests broke out in other areas of Kabul, including the main road into the city, where demonstrators burned shipping containers and tyres.
The Afghan government has blocked video-sharing website YouTube to prevent viewing of a clip of the anti-Muslim film.
In Jakarta, hundreds of angry Indonesians clashed with police outside the US embassy, hurling rocks and firebombs and setting tyres alight, the first violence in the world’s most populous Muslim country since international outrage over the film exploded last week.
At least ten police officers were rushed to hospital after being pelted with rocks and attacked with bamboo sticks.
Demonstrators burned a picture of US president Barack Obama and also tried to set fire to a fire engine parked outside the embassy.
Demonstrations were also held in the Indonesian cities of Medan and Bandung. Over the weekend in the central Java town of Solo, protesters stormed KFC and McDonald’s restaurants, forcing them to close.
The wave of international violence began last Tuesday when mainly Islamist protesters climbed the US embassy walls in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, and tore down the American flag from a pole in the courtyard.
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