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Friday, September 14, 2012

Egypt: Clashes continue at the US Embassy in Cairo

Clashes at the US Embassy in Cairo

Protests against anti-Islam movie continue in Egypt. The demonstrations started on Tuesday, 11 September, when nearly three-four thousand people, mostly Islamists, Salafi and also Ultras (soccer fans), gathered in front of US Embassy in Cairo to protests against the short movie called “The Innocence of Muslims” which insulted Islamic Prophet Mohamed and Muslim people.

The movie angered the people, and the angry protesters were demanding US administration to deliver formal and public apology and to prosecute those who made the controversial movie. There were claims that the movie was produced by the US-based Coptic-Christians of Egyptian origin, later there were the reports that this movie was produced by US-Israeli filmmaker, but there is no clear information till now who exactly was involved in producing the abusive film which angered the Muslims so much.

It is worth mentioning here, that Muslim people consider any depicting of Prophet Mohamed being abusive and offensive, as it is strictly forbidden in Islam to produce any images of the Prophet and also members of his family. Such freedom of expression cannot be accepted by Muslim people. But the scandalous movie not only showed Prophet Mohamed, but portrayed him and the Muslim people in an extremely abusive and defamatory way. There were reports that several persons suspected of the involving in creating this movie have been arrested.

The protests in Tuesday were numerous, with the chanting and demanding apologies, some of the protesters even managed to climb on the wall of the Embassy building and to tear down the American flag replacing it with the black flag which is often used by Al-Qaeda. The Armed and Security Forces were deployed, but despite the tense atmosphere and setting the fireworks the situation remained relatively calm, with the peaceful character of protests.

But those protests turned violent on Wednesday, in the evening, and continued till the early Thursday. The clashes erupted near US Embassy building, but later they moved closer to Tahrir Square and the neighboring streets. Around two hundred protesters were throwing the rocks and stones and Central Security Forces. But if on Tuesday the protesters included mostly Islamists forces, today the protesters who started the clashes with security forces were mostly young.

Protesters and tear gas used by Egyptian CSF to disperse
the crowds
It is still not clear what exactly happened and caused the confrontations which led to the violent clashes. State news agency MENA reported that the group of Ultras (soccer fans, who claimed they brought down the US flag yesterday) have been tried to break into the headquarters of the US Embassy, but the CSF have been protecting the Embassy building and surrounded the territory. They also used the armored vehicles to drive the protesters away from the territory of the diplomatic mission. But Ultras denied the information that they instigated the violence.

There was exchange of rocks and stones throwing during the clashes, and the security Forces used tear gas and fired bird-shots in attempt to retreat the protesters and to drive them away. Angry protesters were chanting “Police are the thugs” and some of them were even throwing Molotov cocktails. One of the CSF armored vehicles was reportedly set on fire.

When Armed and Security forces occupied the territory of the US Embassy and the surrounded the area, blocking off the roads leading to the Embassy and making the police lines, so clashes moved closer to Tahrir Square and continued on the edge of it, close to Omar Makram Mosque and Simon Bolivar Square. The traffic was difficult over the protests, but it wasn’t blocked.

Young protesters in Cairo
CSF used tear gas to disperse the crowd; some of the armored vehicles were driving around. Police also used the loudspeakers talking to the protesters urging them to stop the clashes and the violence and asking them to retreat. They also have been warning against any attempts to storm the embassy. A number of protesters were also arrested, according to the reports of Egypt’s CSF.

Muslim Brotherhood, Salafi and other Islamist movements along with some other political groups and parties have been calling to organize the million-man march on Friday to protests against the anti-Islam movie and demand the apology and prosecution of those involved in producing the film. But the representatives of Islamists movements condemned such violent attacks against the embassies and called for the peaceful protests. Any expression of violence should be avoided.

Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsy also condemned the violent attacks against the US embassy, but he stressed that any action which could insult Islam and the Prophet is unacceptable for Egyptians. He called on US administration to take all legal measures against those who were trying to damage the relationships between the countries. He also stressed that Egypt is able to protect the embassies and foreign envoys on its soil.