Friday Prayers In Muslim Countries Bring Wider Anti-American Protests

U.S. embassies across the Islamic world are bracing for more violent anti-American protests on Friday, the Muslim day of prayers, as popular anger continued over a film that denigrates the Prophet Muhammad.

In the Egyptian capital, security forces blocked the route to the U.S. embassy, sparking clashes with several hundred protesters there, some of them hurling Molotov cocktails.

NPR’s Leila Fadel, reporting from Cairo says that security forces, who in the first day of protests on Tuesday appeared to be late in reacting, “have [today] been very proactive, constant teargas on these demonstrators, constant clashes to keep them away from the embassy.”

The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organization to which Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi belongs, called for a nationwide protest against the anti-Muslim film, Fadel says. But the group later cancelled the call due to the escalation in violence at protests already underway near Tahrir Square in the capital.

Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters were also blocked from reaching the U.S. embassy in Yemen, where on Thursday they had breached the walls of the embassy compound and torn down the American flag before being turned back. Security forces fired warned shots and used water cannons against the protesters.

The Associated Press reports that “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.”

So far, there seemed to be no reports of large-scale demonstrations or violence in Libya, where the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed on Tuesday in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

Ambassador Chris Stevens and information management specialist Sean Smith were among those killed in Benghazi. Late Thursday, the U.S. State Department released the names of the two others – Glen A. Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods, both former Navy SEALs who were charged with protecting the consulate.

In Afghanistan, NPR’s Soraya Sarhadi Nelson reports that after Friday prayers, hundreds of Afghans demonstrated in a district southeast of Jalalabad, near the Pakistani border. A government spokesman told NPR that the protesters burned an American flag and shouted anti-U.S. slogans, but were otherwise peaceful.

The AP reports that about 200 people gathered in the Indonesia capital, Jakarta chanting “death to Jews!” and “death to America!”

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