Islamists Attack US Embassies In Egypt And Libya
US embassies in Cairo, Benghazi targeted over on-screen ‘insults’ to Islam
A US official has been killed and another wounded as an armed mob attacked the US Consulate in Benghazi. The attack came hours after protesters stormed the US Embassy in Cairo in indignation over a US film they say insulted the Prophet Muhammad.
“One American official was killed and another injured in the hand,” Libya’s Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharef told AFP. “The other staff members were evacuated and are safe and sound.”
The attackers in Benghazi set fire to the building, according to witness reports, who say much of the consulate was burned. There were reports of gunfights between the attackers and Libyan security force. At least three members of the security forces were taken away in an ambulance, Reuters reported.
Rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the consulate from a nearby farm, said Abdelmonoem al-Horr, a spokesman for the Libyan Interior Ministry’s security commission.
The US State Department has no independent confirmation that an American was killed in the Benghazi attack, an official told CNN.
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland earlier strongly condemned the attack on the US diplomatic mission.
Earlier, over 2,000 protesters gathered outside the US Embassy in Cairo, some of them removing the US flag and trying to replace it with a black flag reading “There is no God but Allah.”
“This movie must be banned immediately and an apology should be made … this is a disgrace,” one activist told Reuters. He also called on President Mohamed Morsi to take action.
It is not known what film caused the protests, but reports say pastor US pastor Terry Jones, who is infamous for his Koran-burning episodes, was involved in its production.
The embassy in Cairo, in a statement, condemned “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”
The State Department said it is investigating reports of demonstrators breaching the walls, adding that it is “working with Egyptian security to try to restore order at the embassy.”
Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Screenings canceled for security reasons
Meanwhile, British Channel 4 has called off a documentary questioning the origins of Islam, citing security concerns.
“Islam: The Untold Story,” which claims that there is little contemporary evidence of the origins of Islam, drew over 1,000 complains after it was screened two weeks ago.
“Having taken security advice we have reluctantly cancelled a planned screening of the program, Islam: The Untold Story. We remain extremely proud of the film, which is still available to view on 4oD,” the channel said in a statement.
Metropolitan police say they are unaware of any advice leading to the channel’s decision to cancel the screening. But sources close to the channel say it was received from “relevant security authorities.”
Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
The US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed when local militia assaulted Washington’s consulate in Benghazi. President Barack Obama has condemned the attack.
Reports from various sources paint an unclear picture of the circumstances surrounding Ambassador John Christopher Steven’s death.
A group of extremist militia members stormed Benghazi’s US consulate on Tuesday night. Stevens may not have been killed in the Tuesday night assault, however, but rather when a second mob attacked his motorcade as it was leaving Benghazi Wednesday morning, the Guardian said.
Libyan officials alleged that Islamist militants fired rockets at Steven’s car, killing him and three other embassy staffers. Witnesses cited by local media claimed that members of the hardline Islamist group Ansar Al-Sharia were among the ranks of the attackers.
President Obama and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen have roundly condemned the attack, and mourned Steven’s death.
“Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi,” Obama said in a statement.
“We apologise to the United States, the people and to the whole world for what happened,” interim Libyan president Mohammed Magarief said in a news conference. “We confirm that no one will escape from punishment and questioning.”
The US diplomatic facility in eastern Libya was evacuated following violent clashes, and a horde of militia members then stormed the building and torched it.
Tunisian Salafis are now calling for an attack on their country’s US embassy, Tunisian media outlets said. Salafis militants had previously attempted to attack the embassy, but were repelled by security forces. Many in the region believe another attack is imminent.
President Obama has ordered increased security for US diplomatic personnel around the world, and a Marine fleet anti-terrorist security team has been dispatched to Libya to boost security.
Film mocking Muhammad sparks violence, worldwide anger among Muslims
The outbreak of violence is part of global Islamic outrage against the American amateur film ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ which was deemed offensive to the Prophet Muhammad. Similar attacks took place at the US embassy in Cairo, Egypt.
The independent film was allegedly produced and directed by Sam Bacile, a 56 year-old Israeli-American real estate developer. According to Ynet, Bacile said he raised $5 million from about 100 Jewish donors, whom he declined to identify. On the eleventh anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, controversial pastor Terry Jones released a video promoting the film, which portrays the Prophet in what he described as a “satirical” manner.
A vehicle and the surrounding area are engulfed in flames after it was set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012.(AFP Photo / STR)
An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012.(AFP Photo / STR)
Ambassador Stevens was born in northern California in 1960.
He was first sent to Libya in June 2007 as deputy chief of the country’s US mission, and then served as chargé d’affaires at the Tripoli embassy until 2009.
Stevens returned to Libya in April 2011, arriving on a cargo ship. The US government sent him to rebel headquarters in Benghazi to serve as a special representative to the Libyan National Transitional Council.
In March 2012, Stevens was named the US ambassador to Libya.
A vehicle sits smoldering in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on September 11, 2012.(AFP Photo / STR)
A man walks inside the U.S. consulate, which was attacked and set on fire by gunmen yesterday, in Benghazi September 12, 2012.(Reuters / Esam Al-Fetori)
An interior view of the damage at the U.S. consulate, which was attacked and set on fire by gunmen yesterday, in Benghazi September 12, 2012.(Reuters / Esam Al-Fetori)
John Christopher Stevens, US ambassador to Libya, shakes hands with Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil (R) after presenting his credentials during a meeting in Tripoli, June 7, 2012.(AFP Photo / Mahmud Turkia)
High alert at US embassies: Fear that anger at anti-Islam film may engulf Middle East
US embassies across the globe are tightening security after the ambassador to Libya died in a militia attack against the Benghazi consulate. The attack was sparked by a US film satirizing the Prophet Muhammad. Protests over the film are widening.
A US Marine Corps anti-terrorism group has been dispatched to Libya to boost security in the wake of the deadly assault, officials said Wednesday. The Tuesday night attack resulted in the death of John Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, and three other diplomatic staffers.
Besides ordering the roughly 50-member unit of the Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team to move in, Washington has also told all non-emergency US government personnel to leave the North African country and warned US citizens against travelling there.
Following the attack, the US has evacuated all personnel from Benghazi to Tripoli. Meanwhile, staff in the Tripoli embassy was reduced to emergency levels, Reuters reports.
Condemning the attack, the US urged all American embassies across the world to take extra precautions. Calls for more protests against the US-made amateur film mocking Islam are already being raised in Egypt, Afghanistan, Algeria and other countries.
In Tunisia, police fired teargas and tear bullets to disperse protesters outside the US embassy in the country ‘s capital. Around two hundred Salafist demonstrators gathered outside the premises in Tunis to condemn the controversial movie. Several American flags were put on fire and prayers were told for the embassy to be closed. After rallying peacefully for several hours, the demonstrators then attempted to break through the gates of the embassy compound, but were blocked by the police and army.
A similar demonstration in Gaza wrapped up with Palestinians burning a US flag.
Tunisian riot police fire teargas to disperse the protesters during a demonstration against a film deemed offensive to Islam, outside the US embassy in Tunis on September 12, 2012 (AFP Photo / Khalil)
The Taliban called on Afghans Wednesday to prepare for a fight against Americans, and urged insurgents to “take revenge” on US soldiers.
“The Islamic Emirate calls on religious heads around the country to completely inform Muslim followers of the inhumane acts of Americans… And make them ready for a long-term fight,” the group said in a statement.
Afghan authorities forced the country’s largest telecom service to restrict access to YouTube to prevent the controversial film from being viewed. Washington also asked Kabul for assistance maintaining calm over video. The service will continue to be blocked “until the video is taken down,” Afghan officials said. Pakistan has reportedly followed suit, while in Egypt the movie was blocked for all YouTube users.
Palestinian men burn the US flag during a demonstration against a film deemed offensive to Islam, on September 12, 2012 in front of the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City (AFP Photo / Mahmud Hams)
The movie behind the recent outrage is the two-hour-long amateur film “Innocence of Muslims”, which satirizes the life of the Prophet Mohammed. The movie, made in the US and promoted by notorious Pastor Terry Jones, claims the prophet was a fraud and a philanderer who, among other sins, approved of sexually abusing children.
After being uploaded to YouTube, the film sparked outrage among the international Muslim community and reportedly sent its director, Israeli-American Sam Bacile, into hiding. Pastor Jones was contacted by top US military and asked to withdraw his support for the controversial film.
Lebanese political party Hezbollah condemned the film, calling on Muslims “to address the issue”. Dubbing the movie “an immoral act which represents the highest degree of aggression,” the group urged the UN to prosecute anti-Islam acts as it does anti-Semitism.
Moroccan women shout slogans during a demonstration against a film deemed offensive to Islam, on September 12, 2012 near the US consulate in Casablanca (AFP Photo / Abdelhal Senna)
Some 2,000 Egyptian demonstrators massed around the US embassy Tuesday night. After climbing the compound’s walls and tearing down the American flag, they hoisted a black banner bearing the traditional Islamic message: “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet.”
On Wednesday, the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest political organization, urged “peaceful protests outside all the main mosques in all of Egypt’s provinces.” The demonstrations are set for Friday, and “all national forces” are urged to join in, the group said.
Egyptian politicians have also voiced concerns that the film aims to incite sectarian violence in the country. Production is reported to have involved two US-based Coptic Christians, while Copts make up a powerful religious minority in Egypt.
Dubbing the movie a “racist crime,” Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party said that “both elements of the Egyptian people – Christians and Muslims – have been and will always be united in the face of such despicable attempts that seek to foment conflict in this homeland.”
Tunisian protesters hold Islamic flags as they step on a US flag during a demonstration against a film deemed offensive to Islam, outside the US embassy in Tunis on September 12, 2012 (AFP Photo / Khalil)
Screenshot by user @alibomaye shows YouTube website gets unavailable in Afghanistan on September, 12, 2012 (Image from Twitter.com)
Islam: The Untold Story | Tuesday 9.00pm | Channel 4
Historian Tom Holland explores how a new religion – Islam – emerged from the seedbed of the ancient world, and asks what we really know for certain about the rise of Islam.
The result is an extraordinary detective story.
Traditionally, Muslims and non-Muslims alike have believed that Islam was born in the full light of history. But a large number of historians now doubt that presumption, and question much of what Muslim tradition has to tell us about the birth of Islam.
As a result, Tom finds himself embroiled in what, for 40 years now, has been an underground but seismic debate: the issue of whether, as Muslims have always believed, Islam was born fully formed in all its fundamentals, or else evolved gradually, over many years – and in ways that Muslims today might not necessarily recognise.
So who was the historical Muhammad, and where – if not from God – might the Qur’an, the Holy Book of Islam, actually have come from?
By asking these questions, Tom – as a non-Muslim – has no choice, over the course of the film, but to negotiate the fault-line that runs between history and religion, between doubt and faith.
UK Channel 4 wages war against Islam
UK Channel 4 has engaged in a direct war against Islam by airing a documentary which distorts the reality of the glorious Faith.
Over 1000 complaints have been made to the channel and another 200 to the UK media regulator Ofcom over a documentary about the origins of Islam.
By way of avoiding an investigation into the matter, an Ofcom spokesman has said, “We will assess them and if we believe there has been a possible breach of the broadcasting code, we would hold an investigation, but no decision to that effect has been taken.”
Islam: The Untold Story, presented by Tom Holland, claims there is little written contemporary evidence about the origin of Islam and the life of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
As another politically-motivated attempt by followers of the English Defence League (EDL) to misrepresent the realities of Islam, the production is a mere distortion of history presented by someone with no background of religious knowledge.
Holland’s works mostly comprise vampire and adventure stories, and his non-fiction books are nothing related to religious issues or Islam.
It is, therefore, not surprising that the 44-year-old writer became the target of many criticisms by Muslim viewers who took to Twitter to vent their fury at his inaccurate claims and imaginative lies about the true divine religion.
The Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA) also said Holland was making “baseless assumptions” and engaging in “selective scholarship”.
“Holland has cherry picked from evidence as well as scholarship to take an unsubstantiated and marginalized view on the origins of Islam,” the IERA said.
“He saw what he wanted to see and rejected recklessly what he didn’t like. His exclusion of established academic positions and material facts points to the only conclusion of justifying his own prejudices and ignorance of Islamic tradition.”