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Anti-US Violence Spreads Across Mideast Region

Anti-American violence is spreading across the Middle East, with mobs rioting at US missions in Tunisia, Sudan and Morocco.
By Chana Ya'ar and AFP
First Publish: 9/13/2012, 1:41 PM

Protester holds Islamist flag at US Consulate in Casablanca
Protester holds Islamist flag at US Consulate in Casablanca
Reuters

Anti-American violence is spreading across the Middle East, with mobs rioting at US missions in Tunisia, Sudan and Morocco.

Hundreds of protesters rioted outside the U.S. embassy in Tunisia on Wednesday night. Police in the capital of Tunis were forced to fire teargas canisters at the mob when some 300 rioters stormed the American embassy compound. The rioters, however, were pushed back. Up to that point, the demonstration had been relatively peaceful, with demonstrators brandishing black and white Salafi Muslim banners.

Throughout the Middle East, United States embassies have been warning American citizens to avoid crowded places, and to “remain alert at all times.” Even demonstrations that appear to be peaceful “can turn suddenly violent,” the embassy alert warned citizens living in Arab countries throughout the region.

In Morocco, considered a “moderate” Arab nation with few radical Islamist leanings, hundreds of protesters gathered in Casablanca, the nation's largest city. Demonstrators torched American flags outside the U.S. Consulate, according to an AFP reporter, chanting anti-Obama and anti-American slogans. No violence was reported. The mostly young protesters, who reportedly gathered via a call through Internet social networks, were heavily contained by Moroccan police.

They, like protesters throughout the Middle East, used the excuse of their rage over an amateur video produced in the U.S. that had made news as an “profane insult to the Prophet Mohammed,” the founder of Islam, as the justification for the riots. Some used it as an excuse for violence.

In Libya, rage over the film's "insult to Islam" was used as the excuse for what appears to have been a full-scale Al Qaeda-linked terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that resulted in the grisly murder of America's Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three American diplomats.

The obscure video, produced by a man named Sam Bacile, allegedly a pseudonym, was released at least six months ago and had escaped notice by the Islamic world. Entitled "Innocence of Muslims," it made news after being translated into Arabic with a trailer posted onto YouTube a few days prior to the 11th anniversary of the “9/11” Al Qaeda terror attack on America.

Angry demonstrators also protested at the U.S. Embassy in Sudan, where an embassy official who requested anonymity said, “I do believe it was a few hundred. Our compound was not breached.” 

Staff at the embassy in Khartoum met with three of the protesters, who delivered written demands from a group called “Sudanese Youth.”  The official said “They were asking for an immediate apology, removal of the YouTube video,” and expressed anger at Florida-based Pastor Terry Jones, a controversial Christian cleric reported to be associated with the video. However, it has subsequently been reported that Jones has had nothing to do with the film, other than possibly promoting it.