KHARTOUM, Sept 14, 2012 (AFP) – Anti-US protests by crowds whipped into fury by a film that mocks Islam erupted across the Muslim world on Friday, as violence exploded in Sudan, Lebanon, Tunisia and Yemen leaving three dead and dozens hurt.
The protests broke out when Muslims emerged from mosques following the weekly Friday main prayers to voice their anger at the film made in the United States, which ridicules the Prophet Mohammed and belittles the religion he founded.
In Khartoum, guards on the roof of the US embassy fired warning shots as a security perimeter was breached by dozens of Islamic flag-waving protesters, part of a crowd of thousands who had earlier stormed the British embassy and set fire to the German mission, an AFP reporter said.
A police vehicle near the embassy was also torched as hundreds of demonstrators broke through an outer security cordon after one protester was hit by a police vehicle and killed, a medic and the reporter said.
The body of another protester was later found outside the embassy compound, his clothing soaked in blood, but the circumstances of his death was not immediately clear.
Police had earlier fired volleys of tear gas in a bid to prevent the 10,000-strong crowd marching on the US embassy after they had swarmed over the German mission, attacking its facade and tearing down the flag to replace it with a black Islamist one before torching the building.
Violence also erupted in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, where a crowd of 300 Islamists attacked and set fire to a KFC restaurant, sparking clashes with police in which one person died and 25 were injured, sources said.
The attack on the US fast-food chain’s outlet came as Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Lebanon for a three-day visit, calling for Christian-Muslim coexistence and attacking religious extremism.
In Tunisia, cradle of the Arab Spring which has shaken the Arab world, furious protesters broke through into the compound of the US embassy in the capital, undeterred by volleys of tear gas and warning shots fired by security forces.
The demonstrators managed to clamber over a wall after setting several vehicles alight and then causing another fire in a separate part of the sprawling embassy compound, an AFP photographer said.
Protesters also ransacked and torched an American school in the capital, the TAP news agency reported, citing one of its journalists.
And with tempers boiling across the Muslim world over the movie since the US ambassador to Libya was killed in an attack on an American consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday, the Pentagon said it has sent a team of Marines to Yemen.
The announcement came as tension spiralled again in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, with security forces firing warning shots and water cannon to disperse crowds of protesters trying to reach the US embassy.
Yemeni security forces blocked all roads to the mission, after similar confrontations left four people dead on Thursday, an AFP reporter said.
With much of the anger directed at the United States, where the film was made reportedly by a Coptic Christian and promoted by a rightwing pastor, Washington had earlier ordered security boosted at its embassies worldwide.
In Cairo, where the first protests against the film broke out on Tuesday, protesters again clashed with police outside the US embassy, an AFP reporter said.
Clashes had subsided earlier when police erected a wall of concrete blocks in one road leading to the American compound.
But protesters then moved to a different road where they hurled stones at police who responded with tear gas.
Earlier the Muslim Brotherhood withdrew calls for nationwide protests in response to the film “Innocence of Muslims” that mocks the Prophet Mohammed, saying they would instead take part in a “symbolic” demonstration.
In Iran, meanwhile, thousands of people yelling “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” rallied in central Tehran.
State television showed the crowd streaming out after Friday prayers at Tehran University in which a hardline cleric, Ayatollah Ahmad Janati, blamed the United States for the crude film in which actors have strong American accents, which portrays Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent.
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