Violence flares across Muslim world in film protests

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 September, 2012, 1:21pm


Deadly clashes flared up across Pakistan yesterday as tens of thousands of people took to the streets over an anti-Islam film. Thousands of Muslims also protested in at least half a dozen other countries, some burning American flags and effigies of President Barack Obama.

US interests have borne the brunt of protests against the film, which depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a sexual deviant.

Clashes broke out in Pakistan's five largest cities, leaving at least 15 dead and more than 70 wounded, as government calls for peaceful protests were defied on what was declared a national holiday in honour of the Prophet.

"Participating in the procession is submitting to the will of Allah almighty, that's why I am participating. I would prefer to die to safeguard the honour of my beloved Prophet," 16-year-old Sami Ullah said in Islamabad.

In Karachi, mobs set fire to five cinemas, banks and fast food outlets. Protesters also ransacked the chamber of commerce, shops and cinema houses in Peshawar.

But police were able to keep thousands of angry protesters away from highly protected US missions in clashes that started soon after Friday prayers.

In Indonesia, where US missions were closed, dozens torched an American flag outside the US consulate in Medan. In Surabaya, protesters chanted "crush America, crush France" outside the French consulate.

In Malaysia, about 3,000 Muslims marched on the US embassy. They burnt a US flag topped with the Jewish Star of David in an otherwise peaceful protest.

Similar protests were also reported in Japan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Iraq.

In the Philippines, a law professor defied a ban by the University of the Philippines to show students the 14-minute trailer of Innocence of Muslims. Professor Harry Roque said the film was "trash and nothing but trash" but that he showed it as "an academic, as a lawyer, I cannot allow rights to be infringed upon".

Additional reporting by Bloomberg, Associated Press