Muslim protesters stormed the U.S. embassy in Cairo on September 11, the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, tearing down the American flag and spraying the embassy walls with graffiti. In place of Old Glory, protesters attempted to fly Islam’s black flag of war emblazoned with the word “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger.” The American flag was torn up by the protesters, while pieces of it were burned for the cameras. Approximately 2000 protesters assembled outside the fortress-like American compound, while some 20 people surmounted the walls.
Protesters, many of whom are soccer fans who figured prominently in the violence leading to the downfall of former President Hosni Mubarak, were apparently incensed by a movie that is said to be released that they believe besmirches Islam. “This movie must be banned immediately and an apology should be made ... This is a disgrace," said 19-year-old ultra, Ismail Mahmoud, according to Reuters. The protesters are demanding that President Mohamed Mursi take unspecified action to satisfy their sense of pique over the movie.
In response to the assault, the American embassy issued a statement saying, “We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others." The statement continued, "Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy," while adding that it condemned the efforts by "misguided individuals" to hurt Muslims’ feelings.
There are reports that Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christian expatriates have financed a film with assistance from controversial Evangelical pastor Terry Jones that seeks to put the founder of Islam, Mohammed, on trial for alleged crimes. The spiritual leader of the Copts has denounced the effort. However, according to the website www.standupamerianow.org, Jones, who angered Muslims by burning a copy of the Koran, will take part in an event at 6 PM EST on September 11 that he calls "International Judge Mohammad Day" in Florida in which his group will symbolically put Mohammed on trial and play it live over the Internet.
UPDATE: An enraged mob attacked the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi and set fire to the building, witnesses reported, in what they said was a protest at a film they said offended Islam. Earlier today, Libya's deputy interior minister Wanis al-Shari said the crowd had attacked the building and was confirmed by the U.S. embassy in Tripoli.
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