CAIRO/TRIPOLI: Protesters in Egypt and Libya assaulted the American missions Tuesday over what they said was a film being produced in the U.S. that insulted the Prophet Mohammad.
Egyptians scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, tearing down the American flag and burning it, while an armed mob in Benghazi attacked the U.S. consulate and set fire to the building.
In place of the U.S. flag, the protesters in Cairo tried to raise a black flag with the words “There is no God but God, and Mohammad is his messenger,” a Reuters witness said.
Once the U.S. flag was hauled down, some protesters tore it up and showed off pieces to television cameras.
Many Muslims consider any depiction of the Prophet to be offensive.
One protester – 19-year-old Ismail Mahmoud, and a member of the so-called “ultras” football supporters who played a big role in the uprising that brought down Hosni Mubarak last year – called on President Mohammad Mursi, Egypt’s first civilian president and an Islamist, to take action, without giving details of the film that angered him or other protesters.
About 20 people stood on top of the embassy wall, while about 2,000 protesters gathered outside. The demonstrators were mainly supporters of Islamist groups or “ultras” youths.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland in Washington said the embassy’s wall was breached and the flag removed. “We are obviously working with Egyptian security to try to restore order at the embassy and to work with them to try to get the situation under control.”
Following the protest, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said it was committed to giving all embassies protection.
The U.S. Embassy had put out a statement earlier Tuesday condemning “misguided individuals” who hurt the religious feelings of Muslims or followers of other religions.