Pakistan’s “Love for the Prophet Day” Ends with 15 Dead, 200+ Wounded and Property Mess

On Monday, September 17, the  Pakistan Telecom Authority had ordered access to the anti-Islam film roiling parts of the world blocked from Pakistan.  According to AFP Pakistan, attempts to access YouTube is met with a message saying the website had been classed as containing “indecent material.”

Yet, Russia Today reports that on Wednesday, September 19, several hundred lawyers (good grief, lawyers!) protesting over this same film now blocked in Pakistan have broken into the Diplomatic Enclave in Islamabad that houses the US Embassy and other foreign missions. The report says that police stopped the demonstrators before they could reach the US Embassy, which is surrounded by another set of high walls and protected by security guards. Protesters chanted slogans such as: “Down With America” and “Whoever is a friend of America is a traitor” as they forced their way through a gate into the enclave.

I saw the lawyers’ protest and thought ominous this development.  Because if we could not expect lawyers, officers of the legal system to exercise prudence and restraint in the face of some great perceived offense, what can we expect from non-lawyers?

Today, September 21, officially declared a national Pakistani holiday – the “Love for the Prophet Day”, shows just what a mob of 10,000 in the capital city of Islamabad, 15,000 in Karachi and more in Lahore and Peshawar can do when it wants to burn down its own house in rage.

The Express Tribune reports on the September 21 protests across Pakistan over an anti-Islam film which descended into riots resulting in several deaths, scores wounded and loss of properties:

Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (pbuh) [love of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Day] was observed throughout Pakistan on Friday on the orders of the Government of Pakistan, condemning the anti-Islam film.

After Friday prayers, protests erupted in several cities across the country which soon turned violent. As the police remained unable to control the protesters, a loss to life and property was reported.

A total of 15 people were killed across the country and more than 200 were wounded during the protests. Cinemas, banks, vehicles and fuel stations were torched, while markets were also vandalised.

Two police officials were also killed during clashes in Karachi.

The central leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUI-F) Maulana Fazal Rehman commended the nation over successful protests across the country against the anti-Islam film.

People have died and it’s a success. I must confess that efforts to wrap my head around that one has so far been a failure.

An Express Tribune commenter snarkily writes:

“Somebody insulted me today. I am going to go home and burn it down. Now, someone will think twice about insulting me.”

Below is a video clip from GlobalPost’s Karachi-based journalist Mariya Karimjee with Breaking News Editor Hanna Ingber, giving her insights into how the Pakistani government and political parties have encouraged the anti-US protests.  Read more: http://bit.ly/QrRNxS

The AP  reports that the deadliest violence occurred in Karachi, where 12 people were killed and 82 wounded.  Armed demonstrators among a crowd of 15,000 reportedly fired on police, and the mob apparently burned down two cinemas and a bank.

In Peshawar, three people were killed and 61 were wounded.  Police fired on rioters who set fire to two movie theaters and the city’s chamber of commerce, as well as damaged shops and vehicles.

The report also says that police clashed with over 10,000 demonstrators in several neighborhoods, including in front of a five-star hotel near the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad where the U.S. Embassy and other foreign missions are located.

I have it in good authority that the members of the US Mission Pakistan including those in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar are all safe and accounted for.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani U.N. Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon went on CBS News and told Pamela Falk that if the U.S. wants to stop the attacks against American embassies, to “just lay off our Prophet, just lay off our Prophet. Is that too much to ask?” Which makes perfect sense, of course, as the US Government can just send a mass email to all American citizens, including our own idiots to lay off, right?  He works at the UN, in New York, and this shows real understanding of the United States.  And if that is not enough, he adds:

“Is what happened in Pakistan a manifestation of the people of Pakistan? Yes. Of the government of Pakistan? No,” Haroon said. “If the government of Pakistan was acquiescent of what is happening in Pakistan [the violence], they wouldn’t be firing teargas and bullets at the protestors.”

Diiiiiinnnnnnnngggggg! And he totally missed his chance to explain to the American public that his country has a population of over 180 million people and that the mob protesters rounded up to say 30,000 only accounts for  — wait for it —

0.0001666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666 ….

of its total population.

Because that’s what any well-trained diplomat would have done.  Instead, he  lumps all Pakistanis, all 180 million of them with a rampaging mob,  a deadly minority.   I’m baffled by such diplomatic eloquence.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Protests Spread, Embassy Warnings and Temporary Suspension of Public Services

The Atlantic Wire’s John Hudson mapped on Google the protests breaking out across the globe due to a 14-minute YouTube clip of an anti-Muslim movie.   The protests are directed primarily against U.S. embassies, but also against institutions and businesses like the American International School in Tunis (burned and looted, also photos here of the US Embassy Tunis from an Arabic website), and the Kentucky Fried Chicken and Hardee’s in Lebanon (burned and ransacked).

The British and German Embassies in Khartoum, Sudan were attacked, and there were reported protests as far away as Kashmir and Kut and also against the Swiss Embassy in Tehran, the United States protecting power in Iran.

Over the weekend, there were also protests in Adana and Istanbul in Turkey,  in Chisinau, Moldova and in Sydney, Australia.  It looks like the protesters range in number from as small as 30 individuals to as much as 2,000.

Map of Muslim Protests via The Atlantic Wire
(click on map to view the large interactive map)

Several posts overseas have announced temporary closure and suspension of services.

The US Embassy in Yemen sent an Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens in Sana’a informing them of continuing demonstrations in the vicinity of the embassy, and consular services closure through Saturday, September 29.

US Mission Pakistan issued an Emergency Message for U.S Citizens in the country announcing the temporary suspension of consular services in Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi on September 17  due to the potential for demonstrations in the vicinity of the Embassy. A second message informs U.S. citizens living in Pakistan that the U.S. government has instituted travel restrictions for its employees throughout the country. U.S. government employees can now undertake essential travel only, including within the cities of Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar, due to possible demonstrations moving along major routes.

US Embassy Tunisia announced that the embassy, including the Consular Section and American Citizen Services (ACS), will be closed to public access on September 17, 2012.

US Mission India announced that due to planned demonstrations in New Delhi and Kolkata on September 18, 2012, the American Center including the library and USIEF in the two cities will be closed.

Other posts have issued warning messages of possible protests:

In Azerbaijan, the U.S. Embassy Baku informs U.S. citizens of a planned demonstration in front of the U.S. Embassy at 3:00 pm on Monday, September 17.  The demonstration is assumed to be connected to other anti-American demonstrations ongoing worldwide.

US Embassy Lebanon issued an Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens on “the reaction to the controversial film and internet event and says that “The U.S. Embassy in Lebanon is concerned about the continued threat of demonstrations, and other violent actions against U.S. interests in Lebanon.” The AP’s Matt Lee reports that “A State Department status report obtained Monday by The Associated Press said the Beirut embassy had “reviewed its emergency procedures and is beginning to destroy classified holdings.”

Here is part of the Emergency Message for U.S. Citizens from the US Embassy Jakarta on 9/17/2012:

“The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia has been informed of planned demonstrations in Jakarta and Medan. Today, Monday, September 17 there will be a demonstration in Jakarta starting at 12:00pm. Approximately 1,000 people are expected to march from the Hotel Indonesia Circle outside of Grand Indonesia to the U.S. Embassy. A demonstration also started in Medan today at around 9:00am. Another protest is planned in Medan for tomorrow, Tuesday September 18. The U.S. Embassy has been informed by the Indonesian National Police that approximately 150 police will be present in Medan and approximately 1,500 police will be present in Jakarta during the demonstrations. We advise, as always, that people should avoid large crowds and other gatherings that might turn violent.”

US Embassy Conakry informs U.S. Citizens of anti-American demonstration at the U.S. Embassy on Monday, September 17. Embassy staff have been told to remain at home Monday morning. U.S. citizens are urged not to attempt to come to the Embassy. The American International School was also closed on Monday.

In Afghanistan, the US Embassy in Kabul restricted travel for Chief of Mission personnel across Afghanistan until further notice.

US Embassy Indonesia: Violent Clashes in Jakarta, Protest in Medan

AFP reports that Indonesian protesters hurled petrol bombs and clashed with local police outside the US Embassy in Jakarta on Monday, as demonstrations in the world’s most populous Muslim nation turned violent.  Riot police responded with bursts of water cannon and fired warning shots into the air to disperse the 700 protesters. Several policemen were reported injured in the clashes.

On Monday, about 50 protesters, reportedly students, also trampled on the American flag and threw eggs at the American Presence Post (APP) in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province according to an AFP reporter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

US Embassy Sudan: On Ordered Departure, No FAST Team for Now

Protestors in Khartoum targetted the U.S., British and German embassies after Friday prayer last week. Time.com reports that since it was Friday, the weekend in the region, Western embassy staff were not on their compounds.  The report adds that while initial reports suggested that there was a widespread breach of the U.S. embassy perimeter, this was not the case. “Some U.S. government property was damaged. But U.S. officials maintained control of the embassy compound and accounted for all mission personnel.”

The Sudan Tribune reports that over 5,000 protesters moved to the well protected US embassy compound located some 20 kilometers south east of Khartoum. The report also says that 250 police officers posted there were able to contain the protesters at a security perimeter, 150 meters from the main gate of the embassy for some time.  Two protestors were reportedly killed while 50 policemen were wounded.

Also on Friday, September 14, DOD says that a Marine Corps fleet antiterrorism security team, called a “FAST team” arrived on the ground in Yemen to help with security at the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a.  Another one is reportedly scheduled to arrive in Khartoum.  This is the second and third FAST team, consisting of about 50 Marines (the first FAST team went to Libya) authorized by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to bolster security at U.S. diplomatic installations in the past two days.   The move comes a day after protesters also  attacked the U.S. Embassies in Sana’a and Khartoum.

On September 15, Al Jazeera reports that Yemen and Sudan have rejected US plans to have marines protect the American diplomaticfacilities, after a wave of violent protests targeting western embassies.

The Sudan Tribune citing the country’s official news agency SUNA says that Foreign minister Ali Karti “has declined to authorise the deployment of these forces affirming Sudan’s ability to protect foreign diplomatic missions in Khartoum and reiterated the State’s obligation to protect its guests members of diplomatic missions.”  Apparently, the Marines had already set off for Khartoum but had been called back pending further discussions with Sudan.

Meanwhile, on September 15, the US Embassy in Khartoum issued a U.S. Embassy Emergency Message alerting U.S. citizens that on September 15, 2012, the Department of State ordered the departure of all dependents of U.S. direct hire personnel and all non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Sudan, following the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. The airport in Khartoum is reportedly open and commercial service is available. The Embassy also closed all Consular Services until further notice.

Also yesterday, the State Department updated its The Travel Warning:

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Sudan, urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Darfur region of Sudan, the Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan States, and advises you to consider carefully the risks of travel in other areas of Sudan.  On September 15, 2012, the Department of State ordered the departure of all dependents of U.S. direct hire personnel and all non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Sudan, following the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum.  This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning issued on September 7, 2012.

While the Government of Sudan has taken some steps to limit the activities of terrorist groups, elements of these groups remain in Sudan and have threatened to attack Western interests. The terrorist threat level throughout Sudan, and particularly in the Darfur region, remains critical, and the U.S. Embassy has implemented enhanced security measures to protect U.S. government personnel assigned to Sudan. These measures include requiring U.S. government personnel to travel in armored government vehicles for official business, and to obtain advance permission for travel outside of Khartoum. In addition, family members under age 21 of U.S. Embassy personnel are not allowed to reside in Sudan.

Read in full here.

US Embassy Tunisia: Protesters breach and set compound on fire (video); Embassy now on Ordered Departure

One of our readers (thanks D!) gave us a heads-up on this video of the protesters breaching the US Embassy Tunis compound on September 14. The 8:34 min video was posted in YouTube by www.businessnews.com.tn , based in Tunisia, titled  “Les salafistes forcent l’entrée de l’ambassade américaine de Tunis et hissent leur drapeau” (The Salafist force the entrance of the American Embassy in Tunis and hoisted their flag). No translation available for the video content.

It does not look like the embassy outer walls have concertina wires. And while it appears from looking at this video that the protesters breached the compound and one building, and torched some vehicles, it is not clear that they got into the chancery.

Another video here with reporting from Al Jazeera.

The Warden Message issued by US Embasy Tunis says that “Violent demonstrators attacked the US Embassy and the nearby American School in Tunis on the afternoon of September 14, 2012, resulting in severe property damage.  Riots and security operations continue.  No casualties have been reported.  No other reports of violence towards Americans in Tunisia have been reported.”

The Associated Press reports that the protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Tunis against an anti-Muslim film were met with tear gas and gunshots Friday, leaving two people dead, around 40 others injured and plumes of black smoke wafting over the city.

The Globe and Mail also reports that a Tunisian employee of the embassy with an injured leg was taken out by stretcher to an ambulance.

Today, the Department of State warned U.S. citizens against all travel to Tunisia.  It also announced that yesterday, it ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. government personnel from the country, following the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Tunis.  The airport in Tunis is reportedly open and U.S. citizens are encouraged to depart by commercial air. Read the new Travel Warning here.

This follows the September 12 ordered departure of all non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Libya, following the attack on the U.S. Diplomatic mission in Benghazi.

US Embassy Yemen: Protests Over Anti-Islam Movie Spread

The offending movie clip has now been viewed in YouTube 1,486,019. Viewers in Egypt and Libya are now blocked from viewing that video.  It has been ordered blocked in Afghanistan.  And the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has reportedly scrambled to block the same video with Pakistani operators “proactively working to block the offending video “wherever it appears.”

Since the protests still appear to be spreading, one has to wonder if anyone on the streets has even seen the clip or the movie or if they are now simply being fueled by rumors.

Reuters is reporting that demonstrators attacked the U.S. embassies in Yemen and Egypt on Thursday in protest at a film they consider blasphemous to Islam.

Hundreds of Yemenis broke through the main gate of the heavily fortified compound in the capital Sanaa, shouting “We sacrifice ourselves for you, Messenger of God”. They smashed windows of security offices outside the embassy and burned cars.

Our embassies in Kuwait, Oman, Jordan, Pakistan, Sudan, Jerusalem, Moldova, Nigeria, Algeria, Zambia, Burundi, , Tunisia and Zambia have also issued warnings of possible anti-American protests.  The protests have already spread to Iraq and Bangladesh.

Here is a clip via Al Jazeera English:

From Benghazi to Baghdad, violent protests are sweeping across the Middle East. The riots are in reaction to an anti-Islamic movie made in the United States. At the embassy in Sana’a, men attacked the US embassy and tore down its gates. And in Egypt, police fired tear gas to hold back the crowds. Charles Stratford reports.

If there are reasonable people left out there who can get howling mad without breaking all the dishes and burning down the house, can we please hear from them?  My heart is sick, take care everyone.