Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, September 2012
Deadly anti-US protests spread across the world
Angry demonstrations and riots over an anti-Islamic film escalated across the Muslim world on Friday and spilled over into Saturday, killing several people and reaching as far as Sydney and the Maldives, as police struggled to protect US embassies.
By Shirli SITBON (video)
France 24, September 16, 2012
France became the latest country to witness the protests when dozens of angry people, mostly men, marched towards the US embassy in Paris and clashed with police, who made around 100 arrests.
A mob of angry demonstrators took to the US consulate in Sydney, throwing shoes and waving banners reading “behead all those who insult the Prophet”. Australian police fired pepper spray to contain protesters.
On the same day, hundreds of people gathered outside the UN building in the Maldives, but left peacefully after a few hours.
In north Africa and the Middle East meanwhile, overnight clashes resulted in at least six deaths and hundreds of injuries, as protesters across the region fought with police as they tried to protect US missions.
In southern Afghanistan, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a heavy attack on a NATO base in Helmund province in which two US Marines and 16 attackers were killed. Britain’s Prince Harry is posted at the base but was unharmed.
On Friday, Sudanese demonstrators broke into the German embassy in Khartoum and hoisted an Islamic flag, while one person was killed in protests in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, where a KFC fast-food restaurant was attacked.
Rallies against the film were also staged on Friday in Egypt, Yemen, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq.
Protesters clashed with police near the U.S. embassy in Cairo before a nationwide protest called by the Muslim Brotherhood which propelled Egypt’s Islamist president Mohamed Mursi to power.
Police in the Sudanese capital fired tear gas to try to disperse 5,000 protesters who had ringed the German embassy and nearby British mission. A Reuters witness said police stood by as a crowd forced its way into Germany’s mission.
Demonstrators hoisted a black Islamic flag saying in white letters “there is no God but God and Mohammed is his prophet”. They smashed windows, cameras and furniture in the building and then started a fire.
Staff at Germany’s embassy were safe “for the moment”, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in Berlin. He also told Khartoum’s envoy to Berlin that Sudan must protect diplomatic missions on its soil.
Witnesses said police fired tear gas at thousands of protesters to stop them approaching the U.S. embassy outside Khartoum.
Then on Saturday Sudan rejected a US request to send special forces to protect its embassy in Khartoum, the official SUNA news agency said.
Californian arrested over incendiary film
In California, police arrested a man in relation to the obscure US-made film that triggered the protests. Previously convicted of bank fraud, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was escorted to an interview with federal officers for questioning. On the same day, the bodies of US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other embassy employees – killed in a brutal attack on the US embassy in Benghazi Tuesday – were flown home.
US President Barack Obama led a ceremony in homage to the men, vowing again to “bring to justice those who took them from us”. “We will stand fast against the violence on our diplomatic missions," Obama said at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington.
The protests present U.S. 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.
U.S. 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 U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff called a Christian pastor in Florida to ask him to withdraw his support for it.
FRANCE 24 with wires.
‘Duped’ actress sues over anti-Islam film
An actress who appeared in the anti-Islamic video that set off violent protests in the Muslim world filed a lawsuit against the presumed writer-producer on Wednesday, saying he duped her into thinking it was a story about ancient Egyptians.
An actress who appears in the anti-Muslim video that has sparked riots in the Middle East is suing the filmmaker for fraud and slander, and is asking a judge to order YouTube to take down the 14-minute trailer, entitled “The Innocence of Muslims”.
Cindy Lee Garcia (pictured above) is one of three actresses in the film to have come forward with similar accusations since the explosion of violence that ripped through Muslim countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia last week, killing dozens of people, including the US ambassador to Libya.
Garcia is targeting Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a 55-year-old Egyptian Copt and convicted fraudster – out on parole – who lives in Los Angeles and has admitted to working on the film. US media say Nakoula wrote and produced the film, using the pseudonym Sam Bacile before being identified.
Garcia also named Google Inc and its YouTube unit as defendants, asking a judge to order YouTube to take down the clip. YouTube said it is reviewing the complaint, and has already blocked the film in Saudi Arabia, Libya, Egypt, Indonesia and India.
The lawsuit states Garcia responded to an ad and thought she was appearing in an ancient Egyptian adventure film called “Desert Warriors.” Dialogue in the amateurish film was later dubbed to include anti-Islamic messages and to portray Mohammed as a fraud, a womaniser and a child molester, and it was also translated into Arabic.
“The film is vile and reprehensible,” Garcia’s attorney, M. Cris Armenta, wrote in the lawsuit. “There was no mention of ‘Mohammed’ during filming or on set. There were no references made to religion nor was there any sexual content of which Ms. Garcia was aware.” Armenta added that Garcia has received death threats since the film’s trailer began drawing attention, and she is no longer able to care for her grandchildren.
The head of the Christian broadcasting charity Media for Christ, identified as the production company behind the movie, said Tuesday that he, too, had been fooled by the producer. He said he had been told the film would be about "Christian persecution."
Lily Dionne, another actress in the film, told CNN on Monday she signed on to the project – originally titled "Desert Warrior" with a central character named George – in response to a casting notice on the Craigslist website.
Dionne, who had just arrived in Hollywood to pursue her acting career, said Nakoula appeared on set to be in total control of the project, to the point of arguing with the director at times.
"He had a vision... he wanted things a certain way," she said. "He knew what he was doing. He was playing us all along." Dionne said she found certain parts of the plot suspicious, including a character called George – a name which she found out of place for a drama set 2,000 years ago in the Middle East.
Later on, Dionne and other cast members were called in to record specific, “out of context” words, like Mohammed, she told CNN.
A third actress, Anna Gurji, told how she had auditioned last year for a supporting role in what she called "an indie low-budget feature movie... about a comet falling into a desert and ancient tribes fighting over it..."
A representative for Nakoula’s criminal attorney declined to comment on the lawsuit.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
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