US evacuates embassies as Muslim protests spread to West

Sep 16, 2012

All non-essential staff withdrawn from Tunisia and Sudan embassies as Muslim leader calls for calm

THE US has withdrawn all non-essential staff from its embassies in Tunisia and Sudan as the wave of protests against an American-made anti-Islam film continues to sweep the Muslim world.

Yesterday, Sudan refused the US permission to deploy an elite unit of marines at its embassy in Khartoum, which, along with the German and British missions, has been the target of violent protests (pictured above) in recent days. The Sudanese government says it is able to provide the necessary protection itself.

According to the Guardian, the US has also issued a travel warning to its citizens. The State Department has warned that the terrorist threat in Sudan remains “critical”. In Tunisia, meanwhile, US citizens were encouraged to depart immediately on commercial flights. Those who stay should exercise extreme caution. In other developments:

Sheikh Khalid Abdullah, whose rabble-rousing Egyptian TV show brought the controversial video, Innocence of Muslims, to the attention of his audience of extremists, has told The Sunday Telegraph his conscience is clear. "I don't have a bad conscience about it, I did not call for violence," he said. "It's not like I made this film. I only transmitted the news. It is funny that people in the West imagine that showing only two and a half minutes of the film on my channel was responsible for this whole crisis."

Protests against Innocence of Muslims has spread to Western countries. Yesterday, Australian police used pepper spray against Muslim protesters in Sydney who chanted, "Behead all those who insult the Prophet," and tried to enter the US consulate. In Antwerp, Belgium, police arrested 120 people during a protest thought to have been organised by a group called Sharia4Belgium. The BBC reports that the group was chanting: “Hollywood go to hell.”

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has said the killing of US ambassador Christopher Stevens during the storming of the consulate in Benghazi last week was the “best example” for Muslims, ABC News reports. "What has happened is a great event, and these efforts should come together in one goal, which is to expel the embassies of America from the lands of the Muslims," the group said in a statement.

Grand Mufti Sheik Abdel-Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheik, the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia, has denounced the attacks on diplomats and embassies, Reuters reports. "It is forbidden to punish the innocent for the wicked crimes of the guilty, or to attack those who have been granted protection of their lives and property, or to expose public buildings to fire or destruction," he said. He called the video at the root of the protests “miserable”.

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