US embassy clashes spread across Muslim world

Demonstrators angry over inflammatory film clash with police in Egypt, Yemen; embassies picketed in Iraq, Tehran, Qatar, Malaysia.

Protesters in front of the US embassy in Cairo 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Protesters in front of the US embassy in Cairo 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
CAIRO - Demonstrators furious at a film they say insults the Prophet Mohammad clashed with police near the US embassy in Cairo on Friday before a nationwide protest called by the Muslim Brotherhood which propelled Egypt's Islamist president to power.
Protesters also clashed with police in Yemen, where one person died and 15 were injured on Thursday when the US embassy compound was stormed, and crowds gathered against the California-made film in Malaysia, Bangladesh and Iraq. According to Al-Jazeera, protests were also taking place at US consulates in India and Qatar, while thousands gathered to protest at the Swiss embassy in Tehran, where US interests are dealt with. Hundreds tried to reach the US consulate in Jerusalem Friday but were turned away by Israeli police.
The film was blamed for an attack on the US consulate in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi that killed the US ambassador and three other Americans on Tuesday, the anniversary of the Sept 11, 2001 al-Qaida attacks on the United States.
In Nigeria, where radical Islamist sect Boko Haram has killed hundreds this year in an insurgency, the government put police on alert and stepped up security around foreign missions.
State-backed Islamist scholars in Sudan called a mass protest after Muslim prayers on Friday and an Islamist group threatened to attack the U.S. embassy in the capital Khartoum. The government also criticized Germany for tolerating criticism of the Prophet.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the video was "unspeakable" but should not be used as an excuse for violence.
"My appeal this Friday is an appeal for moderation, for calm - and it is also an appeal to the governments of the affected countries to strengthen protection of diplomatic missions." Westerwelle told ARD German television in an interview.
US and other Western embassies in other Muslim countries have tightened security, fearing anger at the film may prompt attacks on their compounds after the weekly worship.
The protests present US President Barack Obama with a new foreign policy crisis less than two months before seeking re-election and tests Washington's relations with democratic governments it helped to power across the Arab world.
Obama has vowed to bring those responsible for the Benghazi attack to justice, and the United States sent warships towards Libya which one official said was to give flexibility for any future action.
Delicate balance
Cairo protesters threw rocks at police, who threw them back and fired tear gas. A burnt-out car was overturned in the middle of the street leading to the fortified embassy from Tahrir Square, focus of protests that ushered in democracy.
Egypt has said the US government, which has condemned the film, should not be blamed for it, but has also urged Washington to take legal action against those insulting religion.
President Mohamed Morsy, an Islamist who is Egypt's first freely elected president, is having to strike a delicate balance, protecting the embassy of a major donor while also showing a robust response to a film that angered Islamists. The Muslim Brotherhood called for a peaceful nationwide protest on Friday.
In Libya, authorities said they had made four arrests in the investigation into the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens. US officials said it may have been planned in advance - possibly by an al-Qaida-linked group.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Washington had nothing to do with the crudely made film posted on the Internet, which she called "disgusting and reprehensible", and the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff called a Christian pastor in Florida to ask him to withdraw his support for it.
About 300 people protested in Cairo, some waving flags with religious slogans. State media reported 224 injured since violence erupted on Wednesday night after a protest in which the embassy walls were scaled on Tuesday.
"Before the police, we were attacked by Obama, and his government, and the Coptic Christians living abroad," shouted one protester, wearing a traditional robe and beard favored by some ultra-orthodox Muslims, as he pointed at the police cordon.
Egypt's Coptic Orthodox church has condemned what it said were Copts abroad who had financed the film.
Security forces in Yemen fired warning shots and used water cannons against hundreds of protesters near the US embassy in Sanaa. "Today is your last day, ambassador!", and "America is the devil", some placards read.
Speaking at a campaign rally in Colorado on Thursday, Obama said he had ordered his administration to do whatever was necessary to protect Americans abroad and that aides had been in contact with other governments "to let them know they've got a responsibility to protect our citizens." staff contributed to this report