Widespread protests against U.S. over anti-Muslim film

Palestinian Hamas supporters burn a U.S. flag during a protest in Gaza City, Friday, Sept. 14, 2012 as part of widespread anger across the Muslim world about a film ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Hatem Moussa

Last Updated 5:22 p.m. ET

(CBS/AP) Angry demonstrations against an anti-Islamic film shot in the United States spread to their widest extent yet around the Middle East and other Muslim countries Friday, as protesters smashed into the German Embassy in the Sudanese capital, stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Tunisia's capital, and set fire to a nearby American school.

Security forces in Egypt and Yemen also fired tear gas and clashed with protesters to keep them away from U.S. Embassies. Other smaller protests erupted all over the Middle East, from Gaza City to Pakistan, after weekly Friday Muslim prayers. At least 4 people throughout the region were killed in the chaos.

Two protesters died and at least 29 were injured in clashes with police at the embassy in Tunisia, according to the country's official news agency. Another protester was killed in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli after a crowd set fire to a KFC and Arby's restaurant. At least 25 were wounded in Tripoli, 18 of them police.

Dozens storm, breach wall of U.S. Embassy in Tunisia

And a 20-year-old Egyptian protester died from wounds sustained by rubber bullets during clashes in Cairo, a morgue official said.

Media reports say as many as four people were killed during clashes in Sudan's capital, Khartoum, but these reports have not been confirmed.

The U.S. sent three separate 50-man Marine anti-terrorist teams to Libya and Yemen to quell the violence, reports CBS national security correspondent David Martin. CBS News also confirmed that Marines were sent to Sudan. Another team in Rota, Spain were on six-hour alert of needed.

Friday's wave of protests comes after attacks earlier this week on U.S. Embassies in Cairo and the Yemeni capital Sanaa and on a U.S. consulate in Libya, where the ambassador, two former Navy SEALs and an Air Force veteran were killed.

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A low-budget, recently released online film that mocks the Muslim prophet Muhammed is at the center of the protests. National security experts note, however, that most of countries experiencing violence - Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen - all rid themselves of decades-long dictatorships in what became known as the Arab Spring last year, pointing to shaky security and unrest that has all but disappeared from the region.

Anger over blasphemous film

The movie, called "Innocence of Muslims," ridicules the Prophet Muhammad, portraying him as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester.

CBS News

The Muslim Brotherhood had called for more demonstrations today in Cairo, as did authorities in Iran and the Gaza strip. Large protests were expected in Baghdad and Iraq's second-largest city, Basra, as well as Amman, Jordan. Israel was stepping up security in anticipation of demonstrations after Muslim prayers.

However, a statement on the Muslim Brotherhood's Twitter account said that it has called off the large protests Friday and will instead stage a "symbolic" demonstration against the movie in Tahrir Square.

Sudanese policemen try to disperse protesters demonstrating against an amateur film mocking Islam, outside the German embassy in Khartoum, Sept. 14, 2012.

Police in Cairo have nonetheless prepared, reports correspondent Holly Williams from Cairo. They erected a 10-foot high concrete barrier, blocking the way to the U.S. Embassy. But crowds of young men have clashed with Egyptian police near the embassy for more than 48 hours.

The Egyptian Government knows that these protests are damaging, and they've come at a time when they're trying to rebuild the country after the Arab Spring, and attract foreign investment. However, the government draws its support from conservative Muslims - President Morsi himself belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood - and many of them are still furious about the film made in America that sparked these protests.

And so, said Williams, authorities can't afford to crack down on them too hard.

On Friday Morsi released a statement saying it's up to Muslims - as part of their Islamic duty - to protect embassies and foreign diplomats who are guests in the country. "I call on all to consider this, consider the law, and not attack embassies, consulates, diplomatic missions or Egyptian property that is private or public, " he said.

He denounced the killing of the American ambassador in Libya. "This is something we reject and Islam rejects. To God, the attack on a person to Allah is bigger an attack on the Kaaba," he said, referring to Islam's holiest site in Mecca.

Still, protests broke out in several cities, fanned by clerics.

Leaders of Egypt's Jihad group (a former militant organization) held a conference in the Egyptian city of Alexandria and said anyone involved in "defamation" of the prophet should be killed. They called on Morsi to cut relations with U.S.

"I appeal to President Mohammed Morsi to cut our relations with those monkeys and pigs," said Rifaei Taha, a leading member of the group.

Additional protests were reported in Nigeria; Jalalabad, Afghanistan; Indonesia; Malaysia; Kashmir, India; Islamabad, Pakistan; Bangladesh; Istanbul, Turkey; Lebanon; Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza; Qatar; Kuwait; Bahrain; Jordan; Syria; Iran; and outside the U.S. Embassy in London, where around 120 demonstrators burned American and Israeli flags.

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African protests

Several dozen protesters briefly stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Tunisia's capital, throwing stones, setting fire to cars and raising a flag with the Muslim profession of faith written on it.

Outside the embassy, thousands of demonstrators gathered, including stone-throwing protesters who clashed with police, an Associated Press reporter on the scene said. Officers responded with tear gas and gunshots.

The U.S. ambassador to Tunisia retreated to the safe room in the compound.

Protesters also set fire to an American school adjacent to the embassy compound, and firefighters were prevented from approaching by the large crowd. Thick columns of black smoke wafted through the neighborhood. The group that breached the embassy's outer wall was pushed back outside by police and special forces.

Two Navy ships armed with cruise missiles are monitoring the situation off the coast of Libya, CBS News' Martin reports, but for now have not been given any mission other than to hold station and military action is not necessarily imminent.

In Sudan, a prominent sheik on state radio urged protesters to march on the German Embassy to protest alleged anti-Muslim graffiti on mosques in Berlin and then to the U.S. Embassy to protest the film.

"America has long been an enemy to Islam and to Sudan," Sheik Mohammed Jizouly said.

Soon after, several hundred Sudanese stormed into the German Embassy, burning a car parked behind its gates and setting fire to trash cans. Protesters danced and celebrated around the burning barrels as palls of black smoke billowed into the sky.

Police firing tear gas drove the protesters out of the compound. Some then began to demonstrate outside the neighboring British Embassy, shouting slogans, while others left, apparently heading to the American Embassy, which is outside of the capital.

Defense Department officials also confirm reports of an attack on one of the camps of the Multinational Observers & Force in Sinai, CBS News' Martin reports.  About 600 American reservists serve there but there were no U.S. casualties, although there are reports of injuries to soldiers of other nations.

Middle East protests

In Iraq thousands of protesters, both Shi'ite and Sunni, marched through the southern port city of Basra on Friday, burning U.S. and Israeli flags.

The demonstration was led by the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC), one of Iraq's largest and most powerful Shi'ite political parties.

Tribal leaders in Basra said they wanted the U.S. missions shut down, while Sheik Abu Kifah al-Bakhatri also called for a boycott of U.S.-made goods.

In east Jerusalem, Israeli police stopped a crowd of around 400 Palestinians from marching on the U.S. consulate to protest the film. Demonstrators threw bottles and stones at police, who responded by firing stun grenades. Four protesters were arrested.