Dubai – A wave of furious anti-American protests against a film mocking the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) abated a little on Saturday, but U.S. policy in the Muslim world remained overshadowed by 13 minutes of amateurish video on the Internet.
At least four people all protesters were killed and dozens were wounded in the demonstrations and clashes in more than 20 countries from the Middle East to Southeast Asia. Most were peaceful but they turned violent near Western embassies in several countries in Middle-East and North Africa, presenting challenges for the leaders who came to power in the Arab Spring.
Security forces worked to rein in the anti-American crowds but appeared to struggle in doing so. Police in Cairo prevented stone-throwing protesters from getting near the U.S. Embassy, firing tear gas and deploying armored vehicles in a fourth day of clashes in the Egyptian capital. One person died there after being shot by rubber bullets.
The State Department said U.S. Embassy personnel were reported to be safe in Tunisia, Sudan and Yemen sites of Friday’s violent demonstrations.
Saudi Arabia stepped in with its highest religious authority denouncing the attacks on diplomats and embassies across the Middle East as un-Islamic.
President Barack Obama said Washington would “stand fast” against attacks on U.S. embassies around the world. He spoke at a somber ceremony paying tribute to four Americans killed earlier this week when the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was stormed by furious crowds.
“The United States will never retreat from the world,” he said. The Pentagon rushed to bolster security at missions abroad.
An elite Marine rapid response team arrived in Yemen’s capital, where local security forces shot live rounds in the air and fired tear gas at protesters who were kept about a block away from the U.S. Embassy, which protesters broke into the day before.
Two US marines were killed in Afghanistan when insurgents armed with guns and rockets stormed a heavily fortified air base late on Friday.
The attack on Camp Bastion in Helmand province, which continued until Saturday morning, was a major security breach at a base where Britain’s Prince Harry is stationed and has been the target of specific death threats.
Several thousand people battled with Tunisian security forces outside the U.S. Embassy in Tunis. Protesters rained stones on police firing tear gas and shooting into the air. Some protesters scaled the embassy wall and stood on top of it, planting the Islamist flag that has become a symbol of the wave of protests: A black banner with the Islamic profession of faith, “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet.”
Palestinians staged demonstrations in both the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Israeli police, some on horseback, used stun grenades and made a number of arrests outside Jerusalem’s Old City as a few dozen demonstrators tried to march on the nearby U.S. consulate.
In Nablus, in the northern West Bank, several hundred people protested and burned an American flag, witnesses said.
In the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, who has denied involvement in the film in a phone call to a Coptic Christian bishop, was ushered out of his home and into a waiting car by sheriff’s deputies, his face shielded by a scarf, hat and sunglasses.
“He will be interviewed by federal probation officers,” a police spokesman said. “He was never put in handcuffs … It was all voluntary.”
U.S. officials have said authorities are not investigating the film project itself, and that even if it was inflammatory or led to violence, simply producing it cannot be considered a crime in the United States, which has strong free speech laws. Agencies
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