Protests Against Islamophobe Movie Spreads, Violence Too

The Washington Post reports on the scale of violent protests that have broken out across the Muslim world in response to a movie made by extremist rightwing Christians in America with the express intent of causing that violence.

Protesters in Tunis broke into the U.S. Embassy compound, set fire to trees and broke windows of embassy buildings, a witness cited by Reuters reports. Police in Khartoum, Sudan fired on protesters trying to scale the walls of the embassy there, according to the Associated Press . And security forces in Sanaa, Yemen, fired guns in the air to keep protesters away from that city’s U.S. Embassy, a day after its compound was broken into and looted.

In Tripoli, Lebanon, demonstrators set fire to a KFC restaurant and an Arby’s and attempted to storm a government building, according to news reports. Soldiers opened fire, killing at least one person.

Smaller demonstrations were underway in Indonesia, East Jerusalem, Malaysia and Qatar. And in the Kashmir region of India, at least 15,000 people ”” mostly Muslims ”” participated in dozens of protests, burning U.S. and Israeli flags, the AP reported.

…Thousands gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, 350 yards from the fortress-like U.S. Embassy breached earlier this week. Security forces constructed a massive concrete wall to block off one access road to the embassy, witnesses said, and skirmished with demonstrators who arrived in a slow stream after midday prayers.

Reuters reports that five protesters were wounded by police gunfire in Tunis and adds:

It also emerged that Libya had closed its air space over Benghazi airport temporarily because of heavy anti-aircraft fire by Islamists aiming at U.S. reconnaissance drones flying over the city, after President Barack Obama vowed to bring the ambassador’s killers to justice.

…Protesters in Afghanistan set fire to an effigy of Obama and burned a U.S. flag after Friday prayers in the eastern province of Nangarhar.

Directing their anger against the U.S. pastor who supported the film, tribal leaders also agreed to put a $100,000 bounty on his head.

Protesters also broke into the German embassy in Sudan, smashed it up and started a fire. One protester was killed by police gunfire. There were protests in Iran, Jordan, Kenya, Bahrain, Pakistan and Iraq.

I’m hearing that US law enforcement is investigating possible parole violations by the man behind the movie. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was convicted of federal bank fraud charges in 2010, sentenced to 21 months in prison, and ordered not to use computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer. His uploading his “free speech” would be a clear violation.

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Steve Hynd

Most recently I was Editor in Chief of The Agonist from Feb 2012 to Feb 2013. My blogging began at Newshoggers and I’ve had the immense pleasure of working with some great writers there and around the web ever since, including at Crooks & Liars. I'm a late 40′s, Scottish ex-pat, now married to a wonderful Texan, with Honours in Philosophy from Univ. of Stirling, UK 1986. I worked most of life in business insurance industry (fire, accident, liability) including 12 years as a broker/underwriter/correspondent at Lloyd’s of London. Being from the other side of the pond, my political interests tend to focus on how US foreign policy affects the rest of the planet. Other interests include early and dark-ages British history, literature and cognitive philosophy/science.

14 CommentsLeave a comment

  • The Jihadis have become a force to reckon with.

    “The great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed is to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well” ~ Paulo Freire

  • “…ordered not to use computers or the Internet for five years without approval from his probation officer…”

    Consdiering the prevalence of embeded computers, it would be easier to list the number of things he can do, than the number he can’t.

  • “We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy…All that we have to do is to send two mujahedeen to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al Qaeda, in order to make generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic and political losses without their achieving anything of note other than some benefits for their private corporations.” Bin-Laden, 2004.

    Meanwhile, useful idiot haters on the Right in the US are still helping accomplish that mission.

  • Bizarre YouTube clip ‘Innocence of Muslims’ infuriated faithful, baffled media

    McClatchy, By Lindsay Wise, September 13

    Washington — The mysterious movie that sparked furious protests at U.S. embassies across the Middle East this week might not even exist.

    The film “Innocence of Muslims” appears to be little more than a hokey, badly dubbed YouTube clip promoted by a handful of fringe Christian fanatics bent on provoking a violent response from the Muslim world. They got their wish after the amateurish YouTube “trailer” went viral online and was aired by an Arabic satellite channel.

    Fury over the 14-minute trailer – which depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a sex-crazed child molester and murderer – led to riotous crowds this week at U.S. embassies in Egypt and Yemen. An attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. That incident now appears to have been a coordinated assault planned by Islamist militants.

    The attack, though apparently unrelated, played out at the same time as protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and pulled down and burned the American flag in anger over the YouTube clip, leading media reports to link the two events.


    But by Thursday the story had unraveled. Bacile is not a real person, and there is little evidence anyone ever saw “Innocence of Muslims” in any theater. Certainly it did not cost anywhere near $5 million to make.

    On the YouTube clip, actors’ lines about Muhammad and Islam are crudely dubbed over. Bizarre, poorly edited scenes of sex and violence play out in front of a cartoonish green-screen desert. Actors who appear in the movie have come forward to say the script they used never mentioned Muhammad’s name, and that they had no idea they would appear in a film that denigrated Islam.

    It now appears the Internet furor over the movie was orchestrated by a trio of anti-Muslim fanatics in the United States.


    An anti-Muslim agitator named Morris Sadek, president of an obscure organization called the National American Coptic Assembly near Washington, D.C., promoted the film by email, Twitter and Facebook.

    Sadek is despised in Egypt, even among many fellow Copts who see him as a loose cannon. His citizenship was revoked by his native country in 2011 for “calling for war against Egypt,” among other crimes, according to the Egypt Independent newspaper.


    The film also has been tied to a Vietnam veteran, Steve Klein. Klein, from Riverside County, Calif., belongs to a tiny church that boasts a “militant Christian separatist worldview,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He told the Los Angeles Times that “the idea was to locate . . . those folks who believed Osama bin Laden was a great guy and to try to get them to come to the movie.”

    The episode demonstrates how easy it is for a just few extremists to spread chaos around the globe from their computers, said Lawrence Pintak, dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University and author of “The New Arab Journalist: Mission and Identity in a Time of Turmoil.”

    “We’re so far beyond the CNN-effect days. We’re into this YouTube effect, where words are lethal and it’s so easy to manipulate mainstream media and social and extremist media for your own ends,” Pintak said. “. . . All it takes is a laptop and an Internet connection and you can cause people to die and you can play to the script.”

    “In this case it’s quite clear these guys got what they hoped for, and that was they provoked the Islamists.”

  • McClatchy Newspapers, By Hannah Allam, September 13

    Washington — Right after NATO-backed rebels toppled Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi, American flags and signs thanking the Obama administration popped up in Libyan cities, signaling what many had hoped was a new chapter between the United States and the Arab world.

    A year later, with an American ambassador and other U.S. citizens killed in a siege on their compound in Benghazi this week, and U.S. missions throughout the region under threat, it’s clear that the extremists who were shunted aside by the Arab Spring protests are finding new footholds in the disarray of transitional nations.

    In Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen, Islamist militants are regrouping and attempting to reclaim the banner of resistance that was lost after the revolutionary gains quickly evaporated in the disunity of liberal and moderate parties, in the lawlessness following regime collapse and with the influx of money and weapons from extremist sympathizers.

    Syria’s civil war already has become a bright beacon for extremists, analysts say, with its ability to lure jihadists from across the region for a battle not only about ruling Syria, but about putting a militant Islamist stamp on countries struggling to find new identities after years of dictatorship.

    “Now that these countries have opened up and these guys are out of jails, they’re allowed to proselytize,” said Aaron Zelin, who researches militants for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and blogs about them at “And we’ve seen these individuals encroach on some of the larger debates in their countries.”


    Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Syria also face similar ideological splits in their populations, though the center and left are typically drowned out by the rhetoric of the fundamentalist blocs. And until the moderates coalesce into powerful political entities, analysts said, the new crop of Arab rulers will do more to appease the better-organized right wing.

    “These societies are very divided – it’s just that the Islamists are more vocal and better organized,” Zelin said. “It’s not that these individuals have huge support, but it’s just that these individuals are major spoilers.”

  • Democracy Now! Interview with Islamic Scholar Tariq Ramadan on the Growing Mideast Protests and “Islam & the Arab Awakening”

    Democracy Now!, September 13

    As anti-U.S. protests spread across the Middle East, we’re joined by Tariq Ramadan, professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University and visiting professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Qatar. Ramadan is considered one of the most prominent Muslim intellectuals in Europe and was named by Time magazine as one of the most important innovators of the 21st century. He was barred from entering the United States for many years by former President George W. Bush. In 2004, Ramadan had accepted a job to become a tenured professor at the University of Notre Dame, but nine days before he was set to arrive, the Bush administration revoked his visa, invoking a provision of the USA PATRIOT Act. He was not allowed into the United States for another six years. Ramadan is the author of a number of books, including Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation and, most recently, Islam and the Arab Awakening.


    And the second thing that we have to say—and this is important because you were talking about Mohamed Morsi and people, the Islamists in Muslim-majority countries—there is something which is going to be one of the main challenges in the Muslim world today, in the Muslim-majority countries in the Arab world, is the religious credibility. How are you going to react to what is said about Islam? So, by touching the prophet of Islam, the reaction should be, who is going to be the guardian? And you can see today that the Muslim Brotherhood are in a situation where the Salafis, then the literalists, are pushing. And they were in Libya, they were in Egypt, they are now in Yemen. So, everywhere the Salafi are pushing by saying, “We are the guardian, and we are resisting any kind of relationship to the West or provocation coming from the West.” And internally, it’s unsettling the whole situation. Now in Tunisian, in Libya, in Syria, in Egypt, the clash between the literalists and—the Islamists or the reformists is something which is going to be part of what we have to deal with as to the future of this country.


    Yes, that’s a very important point. We have to define this, because, you know, Salafi is a very broad concept in Islam. What we have now is, like, for example, the Nour Party in Egypt or the Salafi in Tunisia are people who, in fact, we call very often Wahhabi, following the Saudi school of thought and law. And they are literalists in the way where it’s black and white, there’s a very narrow interpretation of the scriptural sources. For decades, we knew that they were there, but they were not involved in politics. What is completely new for all of us over the last three years is that they are now within the political arena and playing the democratic game. One year ago, the people from the Nour Party, before even creating a party, was saying democracy is not Islamic. And all of a sudden, in eight months, they enter into the political game, and they got 24 percent, meaning that this is a political power. And they are—they have some credentials, and they are playing with this. And the perception in the West is, oh, they are the same as the Muslim Brotherhood. In fact, no. They were even supporting the candidate who left the Muslim Brotherhood, to put the Muslim Brotherhood in a very difficult situation. And they are backed and supported by financial, you know, support by organizations that are coming from Saudi Arabia, even Qatar, and these organizations are supporting them financially. And they are now in Tunisia. When I was in Tunisia talking to the president, he was telling me, “We didn’t know about these people before. How come, in less than six months, they are there, and they are pushing?” And this is to make the whole democratization process unsettled, on the basis of the Islamic reference.

    So this is why, as Muslims and as Muslim scholars and intellectuals, we have to be very clear on what is acceptable and what is this accepted diversity in Islam, and things that are done like yesterday, then the day before yesterday, that are completely non-Islamic, against our principles, because there is now a connection between some literalists and violent extremists, who want to kill, who want to get the kind of popular support. And populism is everywhere. We have religious populism in the Muslim-majority countries as much as we have populism in the United States of America. The reaction of Mitt Romney about saying, “Oh, you don’t have to apologize, and you have first to be clear on the fact that this is our values,” is playing with symbols. It’s just to put Barack Obama in a situation where he has to condemn first what happened and to celebrate the American values. I think it’s tricky.

    Rush transcript and video at the link.

  • French immams appeal for calm as foreign embassies attacked across Arab world

    RFI, September 14

    Muslim leaders in France have used Friday prayers to ask their followers to refrain from replicating the violent protests against an anti-Islam video that have spread across the Arab world.

    “A lot of people have spoken to the imams, who have called for vigilance,” Abdullah Zekri, the president of the Observatory against Islamophobia, told the news agency AFP.

    “They [the imams] said: ‘Yes, there are attacks against our religion. But those who did it are fanatics who want to stir up trouble. Be careful not to fall into the trap,” he adds.

    In the latest developments, protesters stormed and set fire to the German and British embassies in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, just before moving on to the US embassy on the outskirts of the city.

    Protesters have also climbed the walls of the US embassy in Tunis, Tunisia.

    In Lebanon, protesters set fire to an outlet of the American fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken.

    Since Tuesday, there have been violent protests outside US missions in other parts of the region, including Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Iran, Iraq and Jordan.

    World Crunch / Le Soir: “As Muslims, We Must Condemn These Acts…” Watching Benghazi From Rabat

  • Someone ought to explain this, in simple language, to the ordinary Arab folks so it doesn’t happen over and over again.

    The copycats are coming … some may even be Jihadists who want to get the ball of Jihad rolling. It’s just so fuckin easy.

    “The great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed is to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well” ~ Paulo Freire

  • The United States has ordered non-essential diplomatic staff and their families to leave Sudan and Tunisia.

    In a statement, the State Department also urged US citizens in Tunisia to make their way out of the country.

    The US embassies in the Tunisian and Sudanese capitals have both been attacked in the wave of anti-US protests in the Muslim world over an anti-Islam film made in the US.

    Earlier, Sudan refused to allow the US to send Marines to protect its embassy.

    Sudanese officials had said that the country’s security forces were capable of providing protection to the embassy.

    The State Department says the Sudanese government has taken some steps to limit the activities of terrorist groups, but that elements remain and have threatened to attack Western interests, the BBC’s Paul Adams in Washington reports.
    more at bbc

  • California man linked to anti-Islam film to have bail hearing

    Reuters, September 27

    Los Angeles – A California man linked to an anti-Islam film that stoked violent protests across the Muslim world was slated to appear at a preliminary bail hearing in a Los Angeles court on Thursday, a court spokeswoman said.

    Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, has been under investigation by probation officials looking into whether he violated the terms of his 2011 release from prison on a bank fraud conviction while making the film.

    As a condition of his release, he was barred from accessing the Internet or using aliases without the permission of a probation officer, court records show

    • US anti-Islam filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula jailed

      BBC, November 7

      A US man behind an anti-Muslim film that led to mass protests in the Middle East has been sentenced to a year in jail for probation violations.

      Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was sentenced by a judge in California after admitting four violations which stem from a 2010 conviction for fraud.

      Nakoula, 55, was arrested in September weeks after going into hiding.

      Dozens of people died in the Middle East in protests over the film the Innocence of Muslims.

      US District Judge Christina Snyder said Nakoula must spend 12 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release.

      Prosecutors had been seeking a two-year sentence.

  • US intelligence now says Benghazi attack “deliberate and organized”

    Reuters, By Mark Hosenball, September 29

    Washington – The top U.S. intelligence authority issued an unusual public statement on Friday declaring it now believed the September 11 attack on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, was a “deliberate and organized terrorist attack.”

    The statement by the office of Director of National Intelligence James Clapper acknowledged that it represented a change in the U.S. intelligence assessment of how and why the attack happened. During the attack on two U.S. government compounds in the eastern Libyan city, four U.S. personnel, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed.

    Shawn Turner, spokesman for Clapper’s office, said that in the immediate aftermath of the attack, U.S. agencies came to the view that the Benghazi attack had begun spontaneously after protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo against a short film made in California lampooning the Prophet Mohammad.

    Turner said that as U.S. intelligence subsequently learned more about the attack, “we revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists.”

    He said it remained “unclear” if any individual or specific group commanded the attack. U.S. agencies nonetheless believe t h at some of the militants involved in the attack were “linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to al-Qaida.”

    In statement, spy chief’s office defends evolving accounts of Benghazi attack, cites shifting intelligence

    Washington Post, By Greg Miller, September 28

    The office of the nation’s spy chief issued a statement Friday defending the Obama administration’s accounts of the siege on a U.S. mission in Libya, saying it became clear only in the aftermath that it was “a deliberate and organized terrorist attack.”

    The statement appeared aimed at quieting criticism, mostly from Republicans, of the administration’s shifting characterizations of a Sept. 11 assault that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. Officials initially described the attack as spontaneous but in recent days have said it was an act of terrorism with links to al-Qaeda.

    The release from the office of Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. came as lawmakers sought more details about the siege in Benghazi. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent a letter to the State Department on Thursday posing questions about intelligence in the period leading up to the attack and the adequacy of the security at U.S. compounds.

    Shawn Turner, a spokesman for Clapper, said U.S. agencies have altered their assessments based on intelligence that has emerged through an ongoing investigation.

    “In the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo,” Turner said. That information was conveyed to administration officials as well as members of Congress.

    But analysts have since “revised our initial assessments to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists,” Turner said. “Some of those involved were linked to groups affiliated with, or sympathetic to al-Qaeda.”

    The release marks a rare instance in which the intelligence director’s office has weighed in through a public statement on details of an event overseas, let alone one that remains under investigation during a presidential campaign. In an e-mail, Turner indicated that the director’s office, while seeking to stay out of the political fray, became convinced that it should clarify the intelligence community’s position.

    “I put out the message because I think it’s important that people understand that early reports are often wrong or incomplete, but our intelligence community continues to work around the clock to gather details and understand exactly what happened in Benghazi,” Turner said.

    Uh huh

    Shifting Reports on Libya Killings May Cost Obama

    New York Times, By Mark Landler, September 28

    Washington — The Obama administration’s shifting accounts of the fatal attack on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, have left President Obama suddenly exposed on national security and foreign policy, a field where he had enjoyed a seemingly unassailable advantage over Mitt Romney in the presidential race.

    After first describing the attack as a spontaneous demonstration run amok, administration officials now describe it as a terrorist act with possible involvement by Al Qaeda. The changing accounts prompted the spokesman for the nation’s top intelligence official, James R. Clapper Jr., to issue a statement on Friday acknowledging that American intelligence agencies “revised our initial assessment to reflect new information indicating that it was a deliberate and organized terrorist attack carried out by extremists.”

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