by Antoine Lambroschini
by Antoine Lambroschini
TUNIS, Sept 21, 2012 (AFP)
Tunisia banned all demonstrations on Friday and security forces mobilised across the Arab world to quell any violence as Muslims protested over a US-made film mocking Islam and obscene cartoons of
the Prophet Mohammed in a French magazine.
Western missions were on high alert, and France closed its missions, schools and cultural centres in 20 countries for the day. Schools in Tunisia were ordered shut from Wednesday, and those in Egypt from Thursday.
Protests erupted in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and in Jerusalem’s Old City, but security forces were on alert to thwart any violence after the main weekly Muslim prayers at noon — a traditional focal point for protest.
In Lebanon’s southern port city of Sidon, Sunni clerics called “a day of rage” against insults to the Prophet Mohammed but urged followers to contain their anger to inside mosques.
Separately, thousands of supporters of the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah protested after Friday prayers in Lebanon’ eastern city of Baalbek, an AFP correspondent said.
The Sunni authority for Sidon and several clerics in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli called for Saudi Arabia and Egypt’s Al-Azhar — the highest authorities in Sunni Islam — to issue a fatwa condoning the murder of anyone associated with the film and for those who denigrate Islam or its prophet.
“He who dares to insult Islam and the Prophet Mohammed shall not live. There are things that cannot be tolerated and insulting the Prophet Mohammed is one of them,” Sheikh Maher Hammoud, imam of the Quds mosque, said in his sermon.
“Every one of these should be killed.”
In Iraq’s southern city of Basra, thousands of people burned American and Israeli flags and carried pictures of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
They shouted slogans such as “No, no America, no, no Israel” and “Yes, yes for the Messenger, we sacrifice for you, O Messenger of God,” referring to Mohammed.
Hundreds of Yemenis also protested, chanting “Death to America, death to Israel,” as they tried to march on the US embassy in Sanaa, but security forces used armoured vehicles and water cannon to stop them.
The protesters demanded “the departure of the US ambassador and foreign forces in Yemen,” in reference to 50 Marines sent last week to protect the embassy.
On September 13, four people were killed when angry mob tried to storm the US embassy and clashed with security forces.
Around 100 Palestinians marched to the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, chanting anti-US slogans before ending their march without incident.
In Libya’s second city Benghazi, where US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were murdered last week in what Washington says was a terrorist attack, rival demonstrations were planned amid fears of clashes.
The hardline Salafist group Ansar al-Sharia, which denied any link to the Stevens killing, called for supporters to rally around Al-Kish Square, a key battleground in the uprising that overthrew dictator Moamer Kadhafi last year.
The demonstration was set for 1500 GMT — the same time a “Save Benghazi” march organised by militia opponents was due to head for the square.
— Tunisia ‘learnt the lesson’ —
Four people were killed and dozens wounded when last week’s demonstration outside the US embassy and adjacent American School turned violent.