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Egyptian leaders call off nationwide protest against anti-Islamic film

The Muslim Brotherhood had called for demonstrations across Egypt, but the British and German embassies in Sudan are targeted.

Egyptian protesters throw stones during clashes near the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt.
Egyptian protesters throw stones during clashes near the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt.
Image: Khalil Hamra/AP

EGYPT’S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD has withdrawn calls for nationwide protests in response to a film that mocks Islam’s Prophet Mohammed, saying it would instead participate in a “symbolic” demonstration.

“In light of the events of the last two days, the Brotherhood has decided to participate only in a symbolic protest in Tahrir Square, so that there is no more destruction to property, or injuries, or deaths, as has happened in the past,” the group’s secretary general Mahmud Hussein said in a statement.

Thousands had protested angrily outside the American embassy on Tuesday against a low-budget US film the “Innocence of Muslims” which ridicules the Prophet Mohammed, with one group scaling the embassy wall and tearing down the flag.

The protest was followed by clashes between small groups of demonstrators — many of whom in their teens or even young children — and police and security forces trying to keep them away from the US mission. By this afternoon, however, the clashes had subsided.

A wall of concrete blocks was erected near the US embassy leaving just a few young protesters pelting rocks randomly, with no response from police, an AFP reporter said.

In Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Egyptian protests, a few hundred protesters carrying banners and Islamic flags walked around the square, around which traffic flowed normally.

On Wednesday the Brotherhood had called for nationwide protests outside the main mosques in all of Egypt’s 27 provinces “to denounce offences to religion and to the Prophet.”

Embassies torched in Sudan

Meanwhile, around 5,000 protesters in the Sudanese capital angry over an anti-Islam film on Friday stormed the embassies of Britain and Germany, which was torched and badly damaged, an AFP reporter said.

Police fired tear gas to disperse the protesters as several of them scaled the roof of the German embassy and others attacked its facade and tore down the flag to replace it with a black Islamist one, the reporter said.

The mob then set fire to the building and blocked the road to prevent the arrival of firefighters, prompting the security forces to fire more tear gas.

Demonstrators also attacked the British embassy nearby, as the British Foreign Office said it was monitoring the situation.

“We can confirm an ongoing demonstration outside the British embassy in Khartoum, and Sudanese police are at the scene,” a Foreign Office spokesman told AFP in London.

Activists in Lebanon, meanwhile, torched a KFC outlet in the northern city of Tripoli in protest at the film.

The low-budget movie, in which actors have strong American accents, portrays Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent.

It pokes fun at the Prophet Mohammed and touches on themes of paedophilia and homosexuality, while showing him sleeping with women, talking about killing children and referring to a donkey as “the first Muslim animal.”

- © AFP, 2012

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