Iraqis burn US, Israeli flags in anti-Islam film demos

AFP , Friday 14 Sep 2012

Protesters in cities and towns across Iraq burn American and Israeli flags in response to the anti-Islam film

People burn an Israeli and a U.S. flag during a protest in Basra, 420 km (261 miles) southeast of Baghdad September 14, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

Iraqi protesters burned US and Israeli flags as thousands of people demonstrated for a second day Friday in cities and towns across Iraq against an anti-Islam film that has sparked outrage in the Muslim world.

In the biggest protest, thousands of people turned out in the southern port city of Basra, carrying Iraqi flags and shouting slogans including: "There is no freedom by abuses to the feelings of two billion Muslims."

The protesters burned American and Israeli flags, an AFP correspondent said.

Hundreds of people also protested in the Sunni-majority Adhamiyah area of north Baghdad after Friday prayers, while dozens of people, mainly from various Shiite parties, also demonstrated in the capital's Tahrir Square.

In Karbala, Abdul Mehdi al-Karbalai, the representative in the city of top Iraqi Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said during his Friday sermon that "these repeated abuses could threaten peaceful life, especially among (religiously) mixed peoples."

He also condemned violence in response to the film, which portrays the Prophet Mohammed and Islam in a negative light, and sparked deadly fury in Libya, where four Americans including the ambassador were killed on Tuesday in a mob attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.

In Sunni-majority Ramadi, west of Baghdad, hundreds of people demonstrated against the film.

Hamid al-Fahdawi, one of the protest organisers, told AFP that demonstrators want the Iraqi government to dismiss the US ambassador and cut economic ties with the US.

Dozens of demonstrators also turned out in the former Sunni insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, also west of the Iraqi capital.

Sadr al-Din al-Qubanchi, a senior Shiite cleric who leads Friday prayers in the shrine city of Najaf, called for the United States to apologise to Muslims and surrender all those who worked on the film to a special Islamic court.

The governor of Nineveh province, Atheel al-Nujaifi attended a demonstration against the film in Mosul, in north Iraq.

There were also protests in various cities in Diyala province, and in other cities and towns including Hilla, Amara and Nasiriyah.

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