BEIRUT

Middle East

Yemen police open fire to stop demo reaching U.S. embassy

Police clash with Kashmiri lawyers during a demonstration against the controversial film "Innocence of Muslims" in Srinagar on September 14, 2012. (AFP PHOTO/Tauseef MUSTAFA)

SANAA: Yemeni security forces fired warning shots, tear gas, and water cannon to disperse hundreds of protesters angry over an anti-Islam film trying to reach the U.S. embassy in Sanaa on Friday.

The protesters assembled about 500 meters (yards) away from the embassy compound and burned the American flag as they called for the expulsion of the US ambassador to Yemen, an AFP correspondent reported.

"No embassy, no ambassador, the people want the ambassador expelled," they chanted.

"Leave, slave of the devil. Leave, ambassador of the Americans" and "Death to America, death to Israel," they shouted.

They were met by security forces who blocked all roads leading to the US embassy after four people died the previous day when a mob tried to storm the mission.

On Friday, tens of thousands of people gathered for the weekly Muslim prayers at Sanaa's Sittin Avenue where they held a peaceful demonstration against the film which was produced in the United States.

The imam leading the prayers condemned Thursday's attack on the US mission in Sanaa, saying that "those who have committed these acts have insulted Islam just as the movie did."

"The attack against the US embassy is an attack against Islam," said Imam Amiredeen.

In Yemen, a group which organized protests that had brought down veteran president Ali Abdullah Saleh last year accused "remnants of the former regime" of carrying out the "sabotage acts" against the US mission.

The group, named the Revolt Organizing Committee, had called for nationwide protests Friday while condemning the violence as well as the film.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama called Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi to express concern about the safety of American personnel in Sanaa after protesters breached the perimeter wall.

The White House said Obama also thanked Hadi for his swift condemnation of the violence and welcomed his investigation into the incident.

Hadi had publicly apologized to Obama and the American people for the acts of a "mob" and ordered a probe.

Protests over a trailer for the anti-Islam film on YouTube first broke out Tuesday in Egypt and Libya, where the US consulate in Benghazi came under attack by an armed mob which killed the US ambassador and three other Americans.

The protests have since spread across other Arab and Muslim countries.

The low-budget movie "Innocence of Muslims," in which actors have strong American accents, portrays Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent.

It pokes fun at the Prophet Mohammed and touches on themes of pedophilia and homosexuality, while showing him sleeping with women, talking about killing children and referring to a donkey as "the first Muslim animal."

 

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