By Carla Babb and Mark Snowiss
Two days after the U.S. ambassador to Libya died during a siege on an American consulate, waves of anti-American protests continued sweeping the Middle East and Southeast Asia on Thursday, with demonstrators angered over a film mocking Islam.
In Yemen, hundreds stormed the grounds of the U.S. embassy in Sana’a.
The mob torched a number of diplomatic vehicles as security guards used water cannons and warning shots in a bid to drive them out of the heavily fortified compound. A number of people reportedly were injured.
Protests against the amateur film made in the U.S. and mocking the Prophet Muhammad also took place in Cairo, Tehran, Baghdad and Dhaka. Demonstrators in Baghdad chanted “no to Israel” and “no to America” while burning an American flag.
Clinton rips movie
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the video “disgusting” and “reprehensible.”
“It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose: to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage,” she said.
During a Thursday appearance in Washington, Clinton said the U.S. government had “absolutely nothing” to do with the video but added that there was no justification for responding to it with violence.
Still, comments from U.S. officials have done little to dissuade protesters.
Protests continued outside the U.S. embassy in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, as police used tear gas against a crowd of about 200 youth.
Egypt’s Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, on an official visit to Brussels Thursday, slammed “attacks” on the Muslim prophet in the film, while also condemning the violence. He pledged to protect foreigners in Egypt.
Ronald E. Neumann, a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and Yemen, told VOA that protesters are not separating the production of the amateur movie from the American government.
“This movie is not United States. It is not the United States’ government. It is a few crazy people that want to take shelter in our country to make trouble for our relations with the Muslim world,” said Neumann.
Probe of US deaths in Libya
The U.S. and Libyan authorities are investigating the circumstance of the deaths of U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three of his staff after suspected Islamist militants stormed the American consulate Tuesday in Benghazi.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told VOA that while the film was “objectionable and wrong,” mob violence is not acceptable.
“That does not in and of itself justify, however, taking life and becoming violent and that’s a different issue altogether. So I think linking the two is not right,” said Napolitano.
Security tightened at US diplomatic sites
The U.S. has been tightening security worldwide at its diplomatic installations.
Washington sent two Navy destroyers, a Marine Corps anti-terrorist security team and federal investigators to Libya to protect Americans and to help hunt the suspected religious extremists who carried out the attack late Tuesday.
American intelligence agencies are examining the alleged involvement of pro-al Qaida Ansar al-Sharia militants, but cautioned they do not have solid evidence. On Wednesday, a brigade from the group denied planning the assault.
Stevens is the first U.S. ambassador to be killed on duty since 1979. He was a career foreign service officer and one of the most experienced American diplomats in the region.