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Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Egypt's tense anti-film Friday: Tahrir rally, sporadic US embassy clashes

Ahram Online provides wrap-up of day's events, including ongoing protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square; on-again, off-again fighting near US embassy; and host of smaller demonstrations in Egypt's provinces

Nada El-Kouny, Friday 14 Sep 2012
Anti-film protesters stay in Cairo
Two Egyptian boys walk past a burnt police vehicle during clashes with riot police, unseen, near the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012(Photo: AP)
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Hundreds of Egyptian demonstrators protested in Tahrir Square following midday prayers on Friday to register their anger over a short film produced in the US that mocks Islam and the Prophet Mohamed. Despite calls to maintain the rally's peaceful nature, limited clashes have continued to erupt near the US embassy in Cairo's Garden City district.

Following Friday midday prayers, Mazhar Shaheen, known as the "Tahrir Preacher," called on demonstrators to maintain the protests' peaceful nature and steer clear of the nearby US embassy. He also urged protesters to stage a sit-in in the flashpoint square in the event they had any outstanding demands, including an official apology from Washington.

Shaheen went on to warn that the offensive film served to promote sectarian tension between Egypt's Muslim and Christian communities. "If you love the Prophet, stay peaceful," Shaheen told the crowd.

"We don't want any more bloodshed; we've lost enough martyrs in recent months," the preacher said.

Following midday prayers, Shaheen called on protesters arrayed in the square to move to the nearby embassy and form human chains with the aim of protecting the embassy from rock-throwing protesters.

Some demonstrators waved black flags bearing the Islamic statement of faith, "There is no God but Allah." Many of the protesters, who appeared to belong to Salafist groups, demanded a robust reaction to the film.

"There must be a real boycott of America on all levels, economic and cultural," Sheikh Gamal Saber, who had campaigned for Salafist candidate Hazem Abu-Ismail in Egypt's recent presidential elections, told Ahram Online.

The Muslim Brotherhood, along with various Salafists groups, had called for peaceful mass protests on Friday outside mosques across Egypt to protest the offensive film.

"The people say the prophet is a red line," was one of the many chants heard at the scene, as scores – mostly members of Egypt's Salafist Nour Party – continued to arrive in Tahrir Square.

Tahrir protests

"I'm here to protest and tell the world that you can't tread on our dignity," said 38-year-old protester Ismail Mohamed. "We're allowed to be angry, but we must also exercise respect and show restraint."

Mohamed's sentiments reflected the general mood across the square, with several protesters stressing the right to peaceful protest while rejecting attempts to storm the US embassy.

Protester Mohamed Mizar, 39, called for steps to be taken to calm the situation. Mizar, who wore a "I love my Prophet" headband, said that Egypt's Al-Azhar University should train its alumni to visit the west and portray Islam in a positive light.

Secondly, he said that Christians and Muslims in Egypt should have real channels of communication, through which they might work out their differences. He also believes that Egyptians must work towards building a strong nation, "so that we can be strong enough to regain our dignity."

One passerby in the square, who preferred anonymity, criticised the situation, asserting that the protests were being instigated by Salafist groups with the aim of embarrassing the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi.

Wahib Hanna, a 60-year old Coptic man who shared this view, said: "Any offense to the Prophet is an offense to all of Egypt's Coptic-Christians."

Meanwhile, for the fourth day running, anti-film demonstrators also continued to protest outside the nearby US embassy, which has remained the scene of on-again, off-again clashes.

Embassy skirmishes

Early Friday afternoon, limited clashes re-ignited outside the embassy grounds between police and hundreds of protesters. Both sides pelted each other with stones while police forces lobbed teargas canisters into the crowd.

By midday, however, clashes seemed to have subsided by the embassy, where a few dozen young protesters could be seen standing – amid rubble and shattered glass – in front of a wall erected earlier in the day.

In the morning, Egyptian army personnel began construction of a wall surrounding the embassy with the aim of protecting the building from angry protesters.

At the back of the nearby Omar Makram Mosque, on a side street leading to the US embassy, ambulances tended to those injured in the embassy clashes. Most injuries were the result of smoke inhalation and rock throwing.

At one point, an American journalist was seen being threatened by a masked protester. This came following earlier reports of hostilities against foreign journalists in the square.

One bystander who witnessed the incident, a student from Upper Egypt, stated: "I don't agree with what the protesters are doing; I bet none of them have actually seen the offensive film."

He added that many protesters, mostly young men, simply wanted to fight with police.

Within the last 48 hours, more than 220 protesters have been reported injured in limited clashes with security forces. On Friday alone, at least 12 were reported injured.

Another passerby, riding a red motorcycle, shouted: "This isn't our religion. We don't call for violence. Neither our religion nor our prophet would approve of this. I want the violence to stop."

Ahmed Seif, a 26-year-old television producer and member of the Salafist Calling, said he completely rejected the violent turn of events.

Still struggling with teargas inhalation, he stated: "I want everyone protesting at the embassy to leave the premises; if we have demands, let's stage a sit-in in the square."

Clashes also broke out in front of the nearby Semiramis InterContinental Hotel, where police vans deployed in an effort to force protesters back towards Tahrir.

In the provinces

In Egypt's coastal city of Alexandria, dozens of protesters – mostly sporting beards – gathered outside the American consulate, where they set fire to US and Israeli flags to protest the anti-Islam film.

While protesters called for "vengeance," they also stressed that they were not associated with any formal Islamist movements.

Meanwhile, in the Nile Delta governorate of Damanhour, thousands of protesters took to the streets to call for the punishment of the film's producer.

In Kafr El-Sheikh, in the north-western delta, a joint protest held by the Muslim Brotherhood, the liberal Free Egyptians party and the Salafist Nour Party kicked off following Friday prayers.

"Barbarian America, this is wickedness not freedom," protesters chanted as they marched in the northern city of Gharbiya.

Similar protests were also staged in Mahalla Al-Kubra, Mansoura, South Sinai, Port Said, Suez, Qena, Sohag, Assiut and Hurghada.

The Muslim Brotherhood, for its part, has organised protests all over the country, including demonstrations in Beheira, Damietta, Luxor, and other governorates.

In the eastern delta, Farid Ismail, a member of Egypt's Constituent Assembly (tasked with drafting a new constitution) and secretary of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party in Sharqiya, said that the anti-Islam film had opened the US up to charges of protecting "terrorism and contempt for Islam."

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Robert Bauval
15-09-2012 11:18am
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I salute President Morsi and his wisdom
WELL DONE PRESIDENT MORSI. I SALUTE YOU. Morsi gave the order to clear Tahrir Square from those maddened violent ignorant thugs. Enough is enough. This was not a 'protest'; it was an a hypocrytical excuse to throw stones and molotov cocktails at the police and disrupt law and order and, most of all, undermine the good work that the Justice and Freedom Party have been doing. Peace, calm and reason and, above all, non-violence must prevail if the New Egypt has a chance to restore this ancient and wonderful land back to its former glory and be respected by the whole world.
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12



Brian
15-09-2012 10:37am
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"This Hate Film"
It saddens me so much that the Islamic people of the world { thankfully, the minority} had given these evil film-makers exactly what they wanted..violence, conflict, strife, deeper divides and a truely negative impression of Islam... Thankfully, I was heartened to read the comments from some of the people around Tahrir and the American Embassy... this {violence} is not our religion...promoting peace and restraint...However much this evil-intentioned film enrages and provokes, is it right and proper for the peoples { the minority.. certainly not all } to direct their anger and violence against those who are innocent and have no responsibilty.. We have had a revolution here to change Egypt into a democracy and this kind of "freedom of expression" however hateful it may be is part of a democratic society.so are we now saying that we should only have partial democracy and the mob can control the majority?? I can't help but get the feeling that some of those public figures who openly conde
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11



Omar, Egypt
15-09-2012 04:58am
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Lessons to be Learned
Tow things we should learn: 1) The compulsive, distructive behavior will do nothing positive; but hurt us; and @) THe majority leaders are not telling the turth Lying is great sin in Islam. Thanks AMerica for everything including bring th Egyptian movie maker to justice. UN need to update its charter to protect religions from freakes.
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10



Yasin Abdullah
15-09-2012 02:35am
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Ministry of Welfare = Nothbing
I agree Mona! THey should open orphonages to rehab and educate those children to become productive in society. You see them sleeping in bus station, store fronts, and eat from trash bins. Coptic & Greek orphanges do their best. Muslims do not understand their relgion fully. The prophet (SAWS) was an orphan. Our religious leaders are not doing their job. Allah Qabeer.
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9



Mona Abdel-Aziz, Alex
14-09-2012 10:25pm
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Homeless Children
There are about six millions homeless children in Egypt. As true, geniune muslims we should care about them instead of becoming menace in street. Majority of Egyptians do not understand Islam. Shame on media and muslim scholars.
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Robert Bauval
14-09-2012 08:01pm
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Has the Muslim World gone mad?
Islam is a religion of peace. It is insanity to kill innocent people over a video made by stupid and irresponsible people, whoever they are. Killings in Benghazi; Killings in Tunis; Bedouins storm an International Peacekeeping Camp; violent clashes in Cairo etc.. etc. What is this nonsense? Is this the image the Arabs want the world to see? Stop this madness now!
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kristine
15-09-2012 05:54am
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To: Robert Bauval
Mr. Bauval... Have you ever read the Quran or did your research? The Quran promotes violence! Quran (2:191-193) - "And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah." Where is the peace in that Mr. Bauval?
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Bill Vann
14-09-2012 05:41pm
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US government and YouTube
It is a lie that the US government has no power to take videos off the Internet. It forced YouTube to do so with those of the US-born cleric Al-Awlaki before killing him with a drone. They don't do so with the anti-Islam one for fear of being criticized by the Christian right that is behind it.
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Kevin
14-09-2012 07:05pm
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Huff some more paint Bill.
Bill, you need to huff some more fumes from a paint can.
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Aladdin
14-09-2012 05:41pm
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US Arrested the Movie Maker`
Newyork TImes newspaper reported the arrest by FBI. He is Egyptian-born and ex-criminal. Federal judge in 2010 prohibited him from using Internet. Allah Bless AMerica.
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Hector M
14-09-2012 09:40pm
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To Aladdin
Aladdin, where did you get that news. This Egyptian Copt is under police protection in San Diego, California as per news. He has much of a criminal record, fraud record.
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Steve
14-09-2012 05:03pm
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Arab Spring
Obama, how's that Arab Spring thing with your "brotherhood" buddies working out for you now? Biggest horses @$$ we've ever seen in this country for a president.
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4



butrus
14-09-2012 03:38pm
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Hi I cannot see my comment.Whats wrong? What about of freedom of speach?
Do you know something like that? This is result of revolution - democracy? No state of terror.
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