Protests connected to an anti-Muslim film and caricatures continued in various countries on Thursday. The US Embassy in Pakistan placed advertisements condemning the offensive video on local television in an apparent attempt to dampen violent riots, in which at least 30 people in seven countries were killed since last week, including the American ambassador to Libya.
The US has spent $70,000 to air an the clip, which features President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denouncing the video.
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A crowd of more than 2,000 people, including students affiliated with the Islamist hardline Jamaat-e-Islami party, tried to make their way to the US Embassy inside a guarded enclave that houses embassies and government offices in the capital Islamabad. Riot police used tear gas and batons to keep stone-throwing demonstrators away from the enclave, and hundreds of shipping containers were lined up to cordon off the area.
Demonstrators also rallied in the Pakistani cities of Lahore, Chaman, Karachi and Peshawar, although those demonstrations were peaceful.
Anti-US protest in Pakistan (Photo: AP)
The protests have been fairly small by Pakistani standards, but are expected to grow Friday, the traditional Muslim day of prayer.
The Pakistani government has called a national holiday for Friday so that people could come out and demonstrate peacefully against the film.
In Iran, hundreds of students and clerics gathered outside the French embassy in Tehran to protest the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in a French satirical weekly. Protesters chanted "Death to France" and "Down with the US" and burned the flags of the United States and Israel. The demonstration ended after two hours.
Pakistani rioters (Photo: AP)
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned the US-produced film, which ridicules the Prophet Mohammed, and the French weekly's cartoons as offensive to Muslims and called on Shiites and Sunnis to unite in defense of Islamic values. Speaking in the Shiite holy city of Najaf in southern Iraq, al-Maliki said "all Muslims should shoulder responsibility of defending Islam."
"Defending Islam is the responsibility of all Muslims, not a particular sect or an ethnic group," al-Maliki said.
US consulate, McDonalds closed
In Indonesia, the US consulate in the city of Medan was shut for a second day as demonstrations continued. About 50 students from an Islamic university gathered in Makassar, the capital of South Sulawesi province. They burned tires and forced a McDonald's restaurant to close. The door was later covered with a sign saying, "This must be closed as a symbol of our protest of the `Innocence of Muslims' made in the US," referring to the title of the film.
Non-violent rally in Kabul (Photo: AP)
A few hundred people demonstrated in the downtown area of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul against the film, chanting anti-American slogans. They dispersed peacefully.
In the West Bank, several hundred people gathered in the city of Jenin to protest the film, carrying banners and holding copies of the Muslim holy book in a peaceful demonstration.
German protesters are due to stage their first rally against the anti-Islam film on Friday in Freiburg after Muslim groups, including Hezbollah, obtained a permit to march through the center of the town in southern Germany. Authorities expect about 800 people to attend. An anti-film demonstration is also scheduled to take place on Saturday in Karlsruhe, in southwest Germany.
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