SIDON, south Lebanon: The Lebanese Army took exceptional security measures Saturday in the southern coastal city of Sidon as well as Beirut, strengthening its presence around U.S. fast food chains in case of riots over a U.S.-made anti-Islam film.
Soldiers backed by armored vehicles have taken up position at the entrance of establishments such as KFC, McDonald's, Burger King, and Pizza Hut in Sidon. Similar measures have been taken in Beirut.
Speaking to The Daily Star from Sidon Saturday, a member of the political bureau Al-Jamaa al-Islamiyya said Muslims should react in a more civilized manner when confronting attacks on their religion. He was referring to the film in which Islam’s Prophet Mohammad is depicted as a charlatan and a philanderer who authorized sexual abuse of children, among other nefarious acts.
"Muslims are hurt, but we should be logical, behaving in a civilized not unethical manner," Bassam Hammoud said, adding that Muslims should adopt civilized language when dealing with non-Muslims.
The movie has caused outrage in several predominantly Muslim countries. In Libya, angry demonstrators stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi earlier this week in an attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and four other American officials.
In Tripoli, northern Lebanon, one protester was killed and more than 27 policemen were injured when stone-throwing demonstrators clashed with security forces and fire to KFC and Hardee’s.
In Sidon, black banners were hung around the city's main squares including, Martyrs' and Qanayeh Squares, addressing the Prophet with the words, "If they knew you, they would have loved you."
Security sources told The Daily Star Saturday that Army and Internal Security Forces personnel, some uniformed and others in civilian clothes, are patrolling streets near fast food chains.
Meanwhile, Future Movement MP Samir Jisr condemned the violent protests in his hometown of Tripoli, saying that such behavior damages the city and contradicts Muslim teachings.
"What happened in Tripoli [Friday] is harmful to the city and its heritage as well as Islam because it departs from its teachings," Jisr said in a statement.
"[The acts] also harm whoever worked in [those establishments] along with job opportunities for tens of people; lastly, it is an assault on the state and people's security."