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Egypt protesters torch US embassy flag, demand apology for anti-Islam film
Angry demonstrators climb US embassy walls, torch American flag to protest anti-Islam film by US-based Coptic group; Muslim Brotherhood urges demonstrators to maintain protest's peaceful nature
Ahram Online, Wednesday 12 Sep 2012
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Angered Egyptian protesters
Protesters destroy an American flag pulled down from the U.S. embassy in Cairo September 11, 2012(Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian protesters on Tuesday took down the American flag from the walls of the US embassy in Cairo during a thousands-strong demonstration held to condemn a short film produced by California-based American-Israeli Sam Bacile, which critics say demeans Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.

The film was initially thought to have been produced by members of the Coptic Diaspora. Maurice Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian living in the US, and controversial Pastor Terry Jones, who is known for his burning of the Quran, are believed to have been promoting the film but were not involved in its production, according to reports in the Wall Street Journal.

A number of protesters managed to climb atop the walls surrounding the embassy, while others were able to breach the embassy's garden, where they removed an American flag and replaced it with another one bearing the Islamic declaration of faith: "There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is the Prophet of Allah."

The Ultras White Knights – hardcore football bans – claimed that members of their group had brought down the US flag. While group members have since retreated from the scene, they say they are planning additional rallies to protest the film.

Many of the more Islamist-leaning protesters had answered calls by Salafist leader Wesam Abdel-Wareth – who is also the president of Egypt's ultra-conservative Al-Hekma television channel – to protest the film 'Mohammed's trial' at 5pm outside the US embassy in Cairo's Garden City district.

Abdel-Wareth, for his part, denied that protesters had managed to breach embassy premises, claiming that the American flag had been torched in front – rather than inside – embassy grounds.

The Al-Hekma channel's official Facebook page, meanwhile, has posted a photo of a group of young men removing the flag outside the embassy with a comment that reads: "Ultras Zamalek tear the American flag in front of the embassy." 

US embassy spokesman David Linfield, for his part, confirmed that protesters had been able to enter the embassy and remove the flag. He went on to deny rumours, however, that shots had been fired at demonstrators or that anyone had been injured or killed.

According to one Ahram Online reporter at the scene, no one had been injured in the ongoing demonstration. Despite the tense atmosphere, security forces deployed at the scene appeared relatively relaxed, with many of them sitting on the sidewalk.  

Protesters carried signs condemning the alleged insults to Prophet Mohammed, while others vowed vengeance. Some protesters demanded the embassy's closure.

"Obama, Obama there are still a billion Osamas," they chanted in reference to slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

Other protesters wrote "There is no God but Allah and Mohamed is the Prophet of Allah" on the embassy's main gate, obscuring the sign reading "Embassy of the United States."

"Everyone is here for the Prophet," said protester Osama Abdel-Halim. "Why is it that, in politics, everyone takes to the streets over things like the constitution, but not when the prophet is insulted?"

Speaking to Ahram Online, engineer Ahmed Hussein said: "I don't want the embassy to be closed down, since this would adversely affect Egyptians living in the US. But I agree that the makers of this film should be prosecuted."

He added: "I don't care if anyone insults Islamist politicians, but insulting the religion itself is a red line."

Protester Mostafa Khalaf called on Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, to "take the necessary steps to prevent the broadcast of this offensive film."

"Morsi, Morsi why are you silent? Isn't this your prophet?" protesters chanted.

The protest began to deviate from its peaceful nature when some demonstrators began setting off fireworks, the sound of which resembled gunfire. Other demonstrators at the scene chanted "Peaceful, Peaceful," urging their fellow protesters to refrain from acts of violence.

At one point, the Egyptian Army intervened, surrounding the embassy grounds in an effort to pacify the situation.

The controversial film is reportedly being produced by US-based Coptic-Christian Egyptians, including Esmat Zaklama and Maurice Sadeq.

Maurice Sadeq, a Coptic lawyer based in the US, announced earlier this week that the US-based 'High Authority of the Coptic State' would broadcast the 13-minute film on Tuesday to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington.

Various local churches in Egypt have condemned the film in recent days, asserting that those responsible for it were merely carrying out their own agendas and did not represent Egypt's Christian community.

As of 8pm, roughly 20 people were standing atop the embassy's outer wall, while some 2,000 protesters amassed outside the building.

In a Tuesday statement, the US embassy condemned the "ongoing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the feelings of Muslims" and the continued attacks on the religious beliefs of others under the guise of "freedom of expression."

Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church and Evangelical Church, meanwhile, both released statements on Monday condemning the film, stressing that it did not represent Egypt's Christian community.  

Fadi Yousef, a member of the Egyptian Coptic Coalition, demanded that those responsible for producing the film be put on trial, describing the film's content as "offensive to all Egyptians."

Brotherhood, Salafist reactions

Meanwhile, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan said on Tuesday that the group planned to call for a million-man rally on Friday to register their opposition to the anti-Islam film.

Ghozlan also said that the US administration should issue a formal apology for the film to the Muslim world, adding that the US government should prosecute the "madmen" whose activities were harming Washington's relations with Arab and Muslim countries.

He further stressed that all demonstrations should remain peaceful in nature.

"Protests should be peaceful and avoid any form of vandalism," Ghozlan asserted. "They should be civilised demonstrations of the Egyptian people's displeasure with this film."

He went on to warn that "any non-peaceful activity will be exploited by those who hate Islam to defame the image of Egypt and Muslims."

Ghozlan also dismissed the notion that the protests would negatively affect Egypt's relations with Washington, stressing that the issue should be one of concern to the entire Muslim world and not just Egypt.

Ahmed Khalil, for his part, a senior leader of Egypt's Salafist Nour Party (which played a leading role in Tuesday's protest), said the party would not call for an open-ended sit-in in front of the embassy. Rather, he said, it had submitted a request to the US embassy demanding that the US government ban broadcast of the film and issue an official apology for its offensive content.

Khalil added that the actions of "certain US citizens" who produced the film served to jeopardize Washington's relations with the entire Muslim world.

In an attempt to contain the situation, members of Egypt's Salafist parties are reportedly cooperating with Egypt's Central Security Forces to persuade protesters to come down from atop the embassy's walls.

As of 10pm, Ahram Online correspondents reported dwindling numbers of protesters in the vicinity of the embassy.

Correction: Ahram Online initially reported that the film had been produced by members of the Coptic Diaspora. This was incorrect on 12/09/2012. Ahram Online apologises for the error.



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61



Idriss Mohamed Nour
03-12-2012 07:51am
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Egyptians should thank God
The Egyptians should thank God and they should understand that God will punish them if they fight aganst shariah rule, let the Egytians know that the land is not for them but for God, and if they decided to remaind doing bad things, I have the believing that God will punish them. let the Egyptians remember the history and the story of pheroh with his followers what God did to them. The brotherhood have the right to rule Egyt, why not they are Egytians and they are capable to do the work in a very good manners, the people are asking for shariah,and Egyt is an islamic country, why some Egytians hate shariah, shariah is the best rule in world, let Egytians take note to Iranens when they follow their leader and they respect them, and they honour them, that is why it is not easy for any country to enter in Iran for war. I suprised what Egytians are doing towards their president Dr. Morsi, let God protect him, Egytians abused their president publiclly this is a shameful thing I have n
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60



Majid
14-09-2012 03:42pm
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Apology
Bloody coward people they know they are coward thatwhy thy do things like that useless donkeys
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59



p brady
14-09-2012 01:40am
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Apology
No amount of bowing or apologies would suffice. It only served to embolden the thugs. Their agenda is total world domination and conversion of all to Islam or death!! I want the same in depth apology to me and all the Christian leaders and men of good faith, for all the non Muslims people arrested, tortured, and KILLED for not being Muslim around the globe!!! No apologies for using a film as an excuse to KILL which is what you thugs want to do anyway!!
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58



TIPU
12-09-2012 09:45pm
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Respect of Religion (Supernatural Power )
Don't be offended as I am offended about you’re taught of response. Question: If your father/mum is being portrayed as a bad monger sex hungry with women/men, then what will be your response. Will you say, its normal mate, leave it. Then its mean you don't have any respect for your father/mum and no love for your father/mum. As you got coward/bagarat soul in your body. Sorry to say but this will be told to you by the world. Now Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) status is being attacked in this movie by Israeli-American individual who is also planning to launch further 200 movies series on the save topic. What will you do dead soul? The producer and director know the reaction from ppl and they are not doing and any good for the world but increasing the hate rated between Muslim and non-Muslim Wake up. why not anyone making movies on Hitler and make him a hero how tried to finish all the Jews from face of the earth and guess wat, who will be producer of the movie Arabs Muslim and ma
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57



Mark
12-09-2012 03:10pm
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Love & Peace
Publishig the film around the date 09/11 is on purpose.... lets spread love and peace instead of hattred.
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56



Aladdin
12-09-2012 01:31pm
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Invisible Hands
Who do you think behind this nonsense to impact US-Arabs relationship? US Gov. does not control publications and should not be held responsible. US Supreme Court considers Prophet Mohammed (SAWS) as great legilator for humanity and women equality.
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Ansari
12-09-2012 11:06pm
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To Aladdin.
Aladdin, the US government can stop Abugharib prison abusive pictures, Kill own citizens, and can not control the illegal publication of falsehood. freedom of expression has limits. These Jews who financed the movie are sitting relaxing and watching the2 bigeest parties fight each other and enjoying. Should you write any fact about Zionist and Jews you will be shut up cries of antisemites.
Gadi
12-09-2012 05:16pm
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Relations
Of course this will affect US Arab relations. The killing of the US envoy
55



Wild Bill
12-09-2012 01:25pm
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Hating in the name of God is insanity or evil, take your pick.
There are a lot of fools and jerks responding to this devastating news who simply are not speaking with, according to what I understand to be His love and devotion to us, in a righteoous Godly manner. Please folks, speak with the humility and compassion such as the followers of the 3 Books claim to be so devoted.
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James N.
12-09-2012 09:54pm
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Live in the real world
Enough love and understanding. Its gotten us nothing but more murdered people. Time for another Crusade!
54



Maude
12-09-2012 01:21pm
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Wall Street Journal
The film was made by an Israeli-American according to Wall Street Journal, his identity was revealed to be Sam Bacil, another was conservative Coptic American and the controversial pastor Terry Jones, who is known for his burning of the Quran, to divise and foment sectarism in Egypt.,
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53



kalid abbasi
12-09-2012 11:25am
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Insult for Humanity.
Blasphemy Movie of this kind is basically insult for the whole humanity. We Muslims should take it to streets and protest against this act of cruel west & US.
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Normalguy
12-09-2012 02:49pm
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You got your wish
“Well, you have to understand that for Muslims a movie claiming that Islam is violent is unacceptable. They had to prove to the world that the movie was wrong.”
zakki
12-09-2012 12:44pm
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Insult
Insult for humanity and free thinking is Islamfascism
52



Ombrai
12-09-2012 10:39am
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Nuckle Draggers
My heart fills with disgust and hatred watching these rioters tear up our flag. The filmmaker of this movie ought to pay these rioters for an effective marketing strategy. Yesterday, no one knew this film existed. Today, the whole world does. Congratz on raising the profile of this amateur movie, Islamists.
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