Today, the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, brought attacks on U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya — not related to the 9/11 attacks of 2001 — but provoked by Christian Pastor Terry Jones, who posted a video depicting Mohammed, some reports say, as a homosexual, and having sex, and compares either Mohammed or all Muslims as child molesters and engaging in bestiality. Jones, who reportedly did not produce the film but did post it on YouTube, became infamous around the world in 2010 after creating “International Burn A Koran Day” – threatening to publicly burn Korans — despite pleas from the highest levels of the American military, noting it would endanger the troops.
Those of the Islamic faith believe Mohammed to be a prophet or messenger sent by God, and some believe he is the founder of their faith.
“Egyptian demonstrators climbed the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo today and took down the American flag and replaced it with a black flag to protest a U.S. movie reportedly tied to Pastor Terry Jones that they believe insults the Prophet Muhammad,” ABC News just reported:
“There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is Allah’s messenger. We will sacrifice ourselves for you, Allah’s messenger,” the nearly 2,000 protesters chanted, according to Reuters.
Dozens of protesters scaled the embassy walls and took down the flag from a pole in the courtyard. After failing to burn it, they ripped it apart and replaced it with a black flag bearing Arabic writing. Reports that the black flag was from al Qaeda were not confirmed.
There were also news reports that gunmen had tried today to storm the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, the second-largest city in Libya. The media said that the incident was related to the film.
A U.S. official confirmed the “security incident” at the consulate and said security forces were working to secure the site. All staff were safe and accounted for, the official told ABC News.
CBS News adds:
The protest was sparked by outrage over a video being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the U.S., clips of which are available on the social website YouTube and dubbed in Egyptian Arabic. The video depicts Muhammad as a fraud, showing him having sex and calling for massacres. Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad in any fashion, much less in an insulting way. The 2005 publication of 12 caricatures in a Danish newspaper triggered riots in many Muslim countries.
By evening, the protest grew with thousands standing outside the embassy, chanting “Islamic, Islamic. The right of our prophet will not die.” A group of women in black veils and robes that left only their eyes exposed chanted, “Worshippers of the Cross, leave the Prophet Muhammad alone.”
Dozens of riot police lined up along the embassy walls. They did not stop protesters who continued to climb up the wall and stand on it, chanting. But it appeared they were no longer going into the embassy compound.
One young member of the ultraconservative Salafi movement, Abdel-Hamid Ibrahim said, “This is a very simple reaction to harming our prophet.”
At The Atlantic, Max Fisher’s excellent reporting, which includes the videos, below notes that in Cairo, Egypt, protestors “say they’re protesting an American film that insults Prophet Mohammed. About half an hour in, someone took a photo that appears to show some of the protesters, of which Reuters estimates there to be 2,000, setting off celebratory fireworks.
The movie is called Mohammed Nabi al-Muslimin, or Mohammed, Prophet of the Muslims. If you’ve never heard of it, that’s because most of the few clips circulating online are dubbed in Arabic. The [below] clip, which is allegedly from the film (update: Kurt Werthmuller, a Coptic specialist at the Hudson Institute, says he’s confirmed the clip’s authenticity) is one of the only in English. That’s also because it’s allegedly produced by Florida Pastor Terry Jones (yes, the asshole who burnt the Koran despite Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ pleas) and two Egyptians living in the U.S., according to Egyptian press accounts. The Egyptians are allegedly Coptic, the Christian minority that makes up about a tenth of Egypt.
Obviously, there’s a lot to this story that’s still unclear. What we do know is that some members of Egypt’ssometimes-raucous, often rumor-heavy media have been playing highly offensive clips from the highly offensive film, stressing its U.S. and Coptic connections. In the clip below, controversial TV host Sheikh Khaled Abdallah (known for such statements as “Iran is more dangerous to us than the Jews” and that Tehran had engineered a deadly soccer riot in Port Said) hypes the film as an American-Coptic plot and introduces what he says is its opening scene.
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