A protester during a demonstration in Khartoum on Friday. (AP)
Cairo, Sept. 14: The violently anti-American rallies that have roiled the Islamic world over a video denigrating the Prophet Mohammad expanded today to more than a dozen countries, with demonstrators storming the American embassy in Tunisia in a deadly clash and protesters in Sudan’s capital broadening the targets to include Germany and Britain.
The broadening of the protests reflected what appeared to be a catharsis of rage at the western powers and was unabated despite calls for restraint from world leaders including the new Islamist President of Egypt, where the demonstrations first erupted four days ago on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
In Washington, the Pentagon announced that it was dispatching 50 Marines to Sanaa, Yemen, to secure the American diplomatic compound, which was broken into by enraged protesters yesterday.
At a bazaar about 48km east of Jalalabad, Afghanistan, protesters burned an effigy of President Obama.
The breaching of the American embassy in Tunis, the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolutions, was at least the fourth time that an American diplomatic facility in West Asia had been violated since the protests began, and state television was reporting that at least two protesters were killed.
All the embassy staff members had been safely evacuated beforehand, officials there said, but part of the compound was burned and looted.
Witnesses in Tunis also reported that an American-run school near the embassy had been burned and plundered by protesters, who carried away a range of items including children’s toys and musical instruments.
Germany’s foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, told reporters at the foreign ministry in Berlin that the country’s embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, had been “stormed and in part set aflame” in an attack by “demonstrators capable of violence”. According to Westerwelle, embassy employees were safe. German missions in Muslim countries had already strengthened security measures because of the unrest.
The police fired tear gas to drive off the attacks in Khartoum, where about 5,000 demonstrators massed on the German and British embassies, a witness told the Reuters news agency.
Thousands of Palestinians joined demonstrations after Friday Prayer in the Gaza Strip. Since there is no American diplomatic representation in Gaza, the main gathering took place in Gaza City, outside the parliament building, where American and Israeli flags were placed on the ground for the crowds to stomp. Some demonstrators chanted, “Death to America and to Israel!” Palestinians also clashed with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem and held protests in the West Bank.
Witnesses in Cairo said protests that first flared on Tuesday — the day J. Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador in Libya, was killed in an attack in neighbouring Libya — continued sporadically today, with protesters throwing rocks and petrol bombs near the American embassy and the police firing tear gas.
In Lebanon, one person was killed and 25 injured as protesters attacked restaurants. There was also turmoil in Yemen, Bangladesh, Qatar, Kuwait and Iraq, and demonstrations in Malaysia. In Nigeria, troops fired into the air to disperse protesters marching on the city of Jos, Reuters reported.
The widening unrest has challenged the Obama administration’s policy in the tinderbox region, where the Arab Spring uprisings have removed many of the pro-American strongmen who once kept public displays of Islamic passion in check. In Yemen, security forces backed by water cannons blocked streets near the American embassy a day after protesters breached the outer security perimeter there and officials said two people were killed in clashes with the police. Still, a group of several dozen protesters gathered near the diplomatic post, carrying placards and shouting slogans.