Furor in Khartoum: The Siege of the Western Embassies

Muslim anger over the controversial anti-Muhammad video clip spread to Sudan. with a violent focus on the Germans

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STR / AFP / Getty Images

Smoke billows from the U.S. embassy in the Sudanese capital Khartoum during a protest against a film mocking Islam on Sept. 14, 2012.

Enraged by Innocence of Muslims, an amateur film mocking the Prophet Muhammad, thousands of protestors took to the streets of Khartoum, Sudan on Friday after weekly prayers to demand the United States ban the film. They started by demonstrating outside the German and British embassies in downtown Khartoum. The protestors then stormed the compound of the German embassy and tore down flags to replace them with Islamic banners, smashed windows, and set parts of the embassy on fire.

Following the burning of the German embassy, protestors blocked the road to deny access to firemen, according to local journalists. They then made their way to the U.S. embassy down the street, where security forces fired shots to repel protesters. At least five people died during protests — state media claims two of these fatalities were due to a car crash — and dozens were injured.

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. As it was Friday, the weekend in the region, Western embassy staff were not on their compounds, and most embassies had already increased security following protests across the region on Wednesday.

(PHOTOS: Protests Rage in Middle East, Sparked by Mysterious Anti-Islamic Film)

The unrest began following the broadcasting of the controversial film on an Egyptian talk show. Afterwards, protestors took to the streets in Cairo, and stormed the US embassy. Videos of protesters tearing down the U.S. flag quickly went viral. Soon afterward, protestors stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi leading to the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other employees. On Thursday, the protests spread to Yemen, where four people were killed. Protests continued in Egypt and ignited across the region, and beyond.

Many youth were fired up by images beamed through the region and calls from religious leaders demanding the film be banned. “We felt it was the right thing to do. Our religion cannot continue to be insulted by the U.S. and Western countries,” Abdalla Hassan, a young student who participated in the protests told TIME by phone.

However, one young activist involved in the anti-government protests in July says many youth participated in the protests yesterday without knowing what they were doing. “They don’t understand freedom of speech or how they are being manipulated by religious leaders,” said Taha , who declined to provide his last name. “They feel so frustrated from not being able to express  themselves and after they were crushed in July this was an opportunity to do something.” He added that while the state media said two people were killed in a car crash, they were actually run over by police vehicles. “After this happened, the protestors started shouting ‘down with the regime,” he said.

(MORE: Can the U.S. Stop the Wave of Muslim Protests Targeting Its Embassies?)

When TIME asked one member of the ‘Sudan Change Now’ (SCN) opposition group, highly active in the July anti-government protests, whether he participated in the protests yesterday he laughed down the phone. “There is no way I would participate in such nonsense,” he told TIME on condition of anonymity. “There are much bigger problems in our country than a stupid film. This will only distract attention from the real problems at hand like unemployment and political oppression.”

On Friday SCN released a statement condemning the film and the ensuing violence. In the statement it condemned “any disrespect to all religions and denounced the producers and directors of this film and everyone involved in any way in its publication and promotion.” However, the group also condemned “the violence and destruction as unacceptable. Uncivilized means of expressing opinions against this film and their use represents a crime against the entire community.”

Another group, the Islamist Popular Congress Party (PCP), led by Hassan Al-Turabi, also blamed the violence on the authorities.  “We hold the authorities responsible for what happened and they have to protect diplomatic missions and their staff from the aggression of those who offend Islam by such kind of actions,” the PCP statement said.

(MORE: What We Can Learn from the Attacks on U.S. Embassies)

SCN blamed the violence on the “policies of purposeful misinformation and propaganda.” The group accused El Teyeb Mustafa, leader of the far-right Just Peace Forum (JPF) and owner of the group’s Al-Intibaha newspaper, for instigating the protesters to come out in front of the embassies. SCN also  raised suspicions regarding the level of force used outside the U.S. embassy compared to constraint used at the German embassy when was set on fire. “Police clearly showed no efforts then to control the situation,” the group said.

It is believed that the anti-Islamic activities of the German Kelin Pro NRW far-right political party, whose members frequently hold demonstrations and display cartoons of Mohammed, have long enraged Islamists in Khartoum. Sudan’s foreign ministry had previously criticized Germany for allowing far right demonstrations to take place. The ministry also blamed Chancellor Angela Merkel for giving away an award to the Danish cartoonist who depicted the Prophet.

Earlier in the day, the U.S. and German ambassadors had been summoned by the foreign ministry to discuss the film. “In our opinion, freedom of speech has limits and when it touches our Islamic sanctities and figures it becomes unacceptable” Undersecretary Rahmat Allah Mohammed Osman told state media.

For many of the diplomatic residents living in Khartoum security has always been an issue, but on Friday concerns reached a boiling point. “Sudan has always been somewhat of a difficult posting, with constant security issues,” one diplomat told TIME. “Now we’re now going to face an even more strict regime of security procedures.” His fears were confirmed by a U.S. official who told the Associated Press a marine unit will be heading to Khartoum to boost security.

(PHOTOS: Displaced by War, Sudanese Refugees Face Worsening Crisis)

Wael Saifuddin Ali, a media activist in Khartoum, said he was concerned for the safety of westerners who he felt were at danger of violence from ignorant youth. “Media has an important and very powerful role to play and should be educating people and especially the Sudanese youth that violence is not the way ahead,” Ali told TIME. “Instead, we don’t have such educational media.”

It was through the state media that the hardline Sheikh Mohammed Dschisuli had apparently called on the public to make a mass demonstration outside embassies.

In response to the demonstrations, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called Sudan’s counterpart, Ali Osman Taha, to express concern over the security of the U.S. embassy in Khartoum. “Vice President Biden reaffirmed the responsibility of the government of Sudan to protect diplomatic facilities and stressed the need for the government of Sudan to ensure the protection of diplomats in Khartoum,” read a press statement.  Germany has closed all embassies in the region as well as in Afghanistan and Pakistan. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said security had been increased at certain embassies with additional security officers being deployed.

On Saturday morning local sources reported that all embassies were clear of protestors but that demonstrations were expected again on Sunday following public calls to resume protests. “While yesterday might have been the worst we will face, we are very far from in the clear,” one diplomat warned.

MORE: After Benghazi Consulate Attack, What’s Next for U.S. Relations with Libya and Egypt?

26 comments
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swsatlaw
swsatlaw

This does not have any thing to do with religion. If a host country can not protect the diplomatic mission of another country then they should be cut off from all Internationale relations period. I mean everything, aid,health,communications,trade, etc. A nation that can not rise to this one fundamental element of international code of conduct is not worth the life of one our people!!!!!!!!!  

Gia Nguyen
Gia Nguyen

Did any of these Muslims groups condemn the Taliban when they destroyed the Giant Buddha Status in Afghanistan...

Vincent Lovece
Vincent Lovece

They must know that this will not stop these movies (or other insulting media) from being made. If anything, this only confirms the stereotypes of Muslims in the minds of many, which will encourage more things like that crappy movie to be produced.

And really, burning embassies only makes the host countries look bad, scares away foreign investment at a time they need it the most, blackens the reputation of Muslim states even more, and really doesn't hurt the "infidel" countries in any realistic way.

Besides what, there are a TON of more important things for Muslims to worry about, such as unemployment, dictatorships, over-dependency on oil and/or foreign aid, income inequality, the miserable state of women's rights, etc. Out of all the problems they have to deal with, they pick THIS one to riot over?!

We will continue to insult them until the end of time, just as we insult our own countries, religions, schools, businesses, etc. It's part of respecting freedom of speech.

Ignatius Ibsage
Ignatius Ibsage

so just who are the people who produced, financed, directed and performed in this lethal bit of hate and what were their motives? acts like this are not protected by freedom of speech anymore than screaming fire in a crowed movie theater. people can get injured and killed as a result namely in this case the american ambassador to libya.

actions have consequences. those who perpetrate them should be held accountable. the only benefactors here are the israelis so guess who's behind it. disgusting.

Ghazy  Adam  Musa
Ghazy Adam Musa

The government of Sudan call people to demonstrate amp; took them by buses for more than 10km to the us embassy to show that they were Islamist amp; then shot amp; beat them to show that they pro Americans !!! What quixotic behavier?  

RobertSF
RobertSF

Muslims are basically the Native Americans of the 19th century. It's sad, but they must all be killed in order for civilization to move forward.

Melissa Asher
Melissa Asher

I also have to say I am proud of the people protecting our Embassy in Khartoum. By the 2nd Amendment Americans have the right to protect themselves and their property by whatever means necessary. The embassy is on American soil. They had the right to carry guns. They had a right to protect themselves and the property of the American people... 

Melissa Asher
Melissa Asher

I must say this. We have always had freedom of expression, it goes along with Freedom of Speech, the Freedom to dress as we want, to be what we want, to live how we want. I do not, however, agree with these people throwing a rampage because someone made some idiotic movie.  I do not believe in burning Qurans, or flags, or any nonsense, such as that, but they do it daily and we sit back and just watch. I do not like the fact that they killed our Ambassador whose only mission in life was to try to make their life better. Then to have his body dragged through the streets.  How would they feel if we went into a Mosque and dragged out their people, beat them, killed them, then dragged them through the streets? Would they like it if we took their flags and burned them daily?  Then to have our President who instead of shouting about the Audacity of this and demanding to have these people thrown into Prison for what they have done, he says," here we will do whatever we can to help you..." What? Seriously?   I am an American. I believe that these people have the same rights as us. I believe they should have the same freedoms as us. But.... First, I guess they must become Civilized. Obviously, they are not... God, There is only one god. He is Allah, He is the Buddhist, He is all of them. They are just differently named according to their language.

I believe in my country. I believe that we do good things. I believe in our people. That in our hearts we do the right thing. We are the United States. Together we will stand. One Nation, Under God...  Whether they like it or not.. They have power and they can change their world. They can have the same freedoms, they can have the same things that we do. but they got to let their countries know what they will and will not stand for. Instead of fighting amongst our selves. We need to start thinking of our World. We need to start working together to bring Peace to our World. The people that ask for fighting, raging wars they need to be stopped. They need their prejudices to be stopped. They should be the ones dragged down the street and murdered for their lust of Jihad. Not the innocent.  Educate your people...

omegafrontier
omegafrontier

These Muslims going on a destruction spree really show the world that the film's stereotypes about them are wrong... or maybe right.

Cynthia Scott
Cynthia Scott

God alone can stop this, the US are no Super Human to evil wild Animals clothes in the human forms.

Milo Bendech
Milo Bendech

 The belief in a ONE TRUE GOD is what landed them in this situation

The solution is to abandon any belief in religion

Religion creates division , hatred, anger, intolerance and war.

Winston Blake
Winston Blake

You have no right to interfere in their country.

Stay home and make your gay porn movies, they don't want you over there.

Cynthia Scott
Cynthia Scott

I do pray  the Aids to those nations be stop and peace prevail. It cannot be continue like it really going none stop ! We as a nation needs our money to heal and help repair our nation. 

 We've already received the blunt of aiding those rogue Muslims nations they're really wild people whom cannot be tamed nor even  jokes with. I pray this nation's government would turn the cover on them turn their back on them, sink or float forget about their existence. They're inhuman aliens.

Milo Bendech
Milo Bendech

You prove my point.

Religious people hate other religious people

To you as a Christian these Muslims are, as you call them, "inhuman aliens"

What you fail to see is that it is a belief in religion that drives them to commit these insane acts

It's no different from Christians who came to the new world and converted people to Christianity at the point of a sword.  Or killed them when they refused to submit

RobertSF
RobertSF

You're right. It's no different. The question is, who will survive? Them or us? It's kill or be killed. Peace is neither possible nor even desirable. 

KatMan
KatMan

And we dont have Ronnis reagan dealing with them in secret to get elected god of America either. The working American paid the price for that stupidity and still is today, some great legacy isnt it.

KatMan
KatMan

And we dont have Ronnis reagan dealing with them in secret to get elected god of America either. The working American paid the price for that stupidity and still is today, some great legacy isnt it.

Walter_Peterson
Walter_Peterson

400 years ago, Catholics and Protestants in Europe were killing each other with great abandon.  Now, that has stopped.  At some point, people on both sides realized that it was pointless and counter-productive.  I expect the same thing will happen some day between Christians and Muslims.  But, I cannot say when, or how many more have to perish before it is so.  My only hope is the observation that those who partake in these violent demonstrations represent only a small fraction of the population of Muslim countries, and that the majority is more measured in their outlook.

atticus451
atticus451

 You are right - it took 400 years; and Catholics and Jews have been going at it since the 1st Century A.D.  Christianity and Muslims have been diehard adversaries since the 8th Century...and that conflict has never abated. Even when we came to the rescue of Kosovo and Afghanistan (vs Russia) the Islam nations could never quite give us our due. Unlike mainstream Christianity that could ultimately reign in their extremists, so-called mainstream Islam is incapable of doing so. Therefore, I'm afraid there is little hope of peace.

KatMan
KatMan

Now you all see why the largest population or religous fruit cakes are incarcerated! The beliefe in fairy tales is a product of feeble minded cult followers who are mostly violent and absurdly immoral in their thinking. If the belief in scientific facts makes me a libertard then I am and honored to be so labeled. The FOSSIL record is the onlt truth of where we came from and what we are to become and the most intelligent of us understand that truth.

Lonnie
Lonnie

The Islamic fundamentalists haven't had this much fun in 30+ years -

since Carter pressured the Shah to leave Iran and welcomed in the

"moderate and respected Islamic cleric" Ayatollah Khomeini from exile.

After 4 years of Obama's apologia tour and his 2009 Cairo speech blaming

the US for MidEast woes, the Islamofascists are partying like it's

1979.

Only this time around we don't have an embassy in Tehran anymore for them to overrun.

ewersmith
ewersmith

You bring up a very good point and I guess the real questions is ................... Is President Obama actually a wolf in sheep's clothing (sorry wolves) ................ I'm afraid that if he get re-elected we may find out ......................... the hard way.

Milo Bendech
Milo Bendech

 

For centuries three religions have been at the core of much of

the  hatred, bigotry and killings going on in this world:  Christianity,

Islam and Judaism.

For over a 1000 years they've fought and

killed each other in crusades, inquisitions, massacres, invasions,

exterminations, jihads, holy wars, burnings, witch hunts and beheadings.

Even today Christians hate Jews, Jews hate Muslims, Muslims hate

Christians, Christians hate Muslims, Protestants hate Catholics, Shiites

hate Sunnis'

All three religions teach the same thing:  That our

God is the only true God; that our beliefs are the only truth; and that

the other guy's Gods are false

Sadly these religions spring from the same source and are really suppose

to teach love, forgiveness, tolerance, kindness and peace.

Instead they all engage in hate, revenge, intolerance, and war.

The destruction and death caused by Muslim mobs around the

world...and the insulting video created by  bigoted spiteful  Christians

here in the US just prove my point:

The world world would be a much better place if these three religions had never existed. 

featherknife
featherknife

 This brings up a curious point that I have always wondered about. They all say "There is only one god. Don't believe in those other gods. So which is it? Is there only one god, or is there a bunch of them, and you have to pick the right one? But I realize that there are as many gods as people who choose to believe in them, and each one is as different and as individual as the people who make them up. The problem comes when someone wants you to believe in THEIR god. There are not many gods, there is not one true god, only people trying to talk themselves in to believing they will live forever, and the people they disagree with will go to hell, forever. Bloodthirsty flocks, with invisible shepherds, screaming "god is love" as they cut off each others heads and slap each other on the back. People is the craziest people by golly.

Cynthia Scott
Cynthia Scott

I must agree with your points of view. It's real sickening and fearful to see what is going on today around the world,  no one never knows where the spear would fall with these wicked people. They're all are of the same as those whom crucify Jesus Christ. They're all Devil worshipers.

USASnews
USASnews

NATO Pentagon USA Russia amp; Germany:

We will build New Nuclear Weapons at Cyprus amp; Israel to Destroy the axis of evils in the violent countries to be punished for all their crimes legalized by islam.