Angry Egypt protests reveal anti-U.S. tensions

(CBS News) CAIRO - Following the U.S. Embassy protests from Tuesday over the controversial anti-Islam film, President Obama told the president of Egypt in a phone call that the U.S. rejects efforts to denigrate Islam, but he added there is never any justification for violence. Meanwhile, there were more protests at the embassy in Cairo Thursday.

The protesters have become rioters, fighting running street battles with the Egyptian police who were out in force.

On Thursday, there was chaos, as young men threw stones and Molotov cocktails, while security forces countered with tear gas.

Egyptian soldiers stand guard in front of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. The search for those behind the provocative, anti-Muslim film that triggered mobs in Egypt and Libya led Wednesday to a California Coptic Christian convicted of financial crimes who acknowledged his role in managing and providing logistics for the production. Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, told The Associated Press in an interview outside Los Angeles that he was manager for the company that produced "Innocence of Muslims," which mocked Muslims and the prophet Mohammed and was implicated in inflaming mobs that attacked U.S. missions in Egypt and Libya. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Nasser Nasser

All of it triggered by an American-made film that deeply offended many Muslims.

Dr. Wisam Abd el-Wares is a businessman and ultra conservative Muslim, who organized the earliest protests. He insisted he couldn't walk side by side with a woman because it's against his religion.

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He told CBS News he didn't mean for the demonstrations to turn violent, and has now called for them to end. But he doesn't accept responsibility.

When told the film was a low-budget effort, made by a handful of people, and doesn't express the beliefs of a majority of Americans, he responded: "It doesn't matter if only a few people saw the film. Any insult to the Prophet Mohammad is unacceptable."

The film may have been the spark, but these protests feed off deeper tensions laid bare by a revolution that forced Egypt's longtime dictator from power last February. With an Islamic party in power now, anti-American feeling is growing.

More than 48 hours after the protests began, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi vowed on Thursday to protect foreign embassies. But he also denounced those who insult the Prophet Muhammad.

It was a show of unity with the Islamists who support him, and a clear sign of how Egypt's relationship with America is changing.

Egypt has been a U.S. ally for three decades. The country averages $2 in American aid billion every year. But then the Arab Spring brought a revolution to Egypt that the U.S. supported. And now the country has an Islamist president and a new political mood. So there was already a rift, but with the last few days seem to have done is to widen it.

  • Holly Williams

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