Egypt's Prime Minister Hisham Qandil speaks at a press conference (Photo: Reuters)
A "number of protesters" were paid to wreak havoc at the US embassy in Cairo, Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil has said.
"There is information confirmed that a number of the protesters were paid," he told BBC Arabic without elaboration.
Hundreds of demonstrators initially converged on the US embassy near downtown Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square earlier this week to protest the US-made film "The Innocence of Muslim" that portrays the Prophet Mohammed as a womaniser, a murderer and a fool.
Relentless clashes against police forces ensued, with protests showing no signs of abating as confrontations left a 35-year-old man dead and more than 250 injured, including 53 security personnel.
In another interview with BBC Arabic, Qandil gave three reasons behind the US embassy clashes in Cairo: "I can start by saying that this event is attached to several unfortunate events. The first unfortunate event of course was this movie.
"It was disgusting, and insulted the beliefs of many Muslims and, unjustified as well. So that was the first unfortunate event. The second event, related to the second part of your question, is linking this movie which was that is the work of a bunch of amateurs, wicked, you know they wanted to insult a very respectable religion.
"That movie linked to the US government was another unfortunate event because it couldn’t be linked to the US government and that was clearly mentioned by Madame Clinton publicly and privately when I spoke to her after this thing started.
"The third unfortunate event is that the peaceful opposition turned out to be violent expressions, which is also very unfortunate… I have to mention that the Egyptian authorities have taken proper measures to protect the diplomatic missions in Cairo and on Egyptian soil to ensure that people and the missions are safe and well protected."
When the prime minister was asked whether the US should make amendments to its laws governing freedom of speech and expression, he replied,"I think we need to work out something around this because we cannot wait and see this happen again."
Qandil also called on the US "to take the necessary measures to ensure insulting billions of people – one and a half billion people – and their beliefs does not happen and people pay for what they do and at the same time make sure that the reflections of the true Egyptian and Muslims is well [represented] in Western media."