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Friday Prayers In Muslim Countries Bring Wider Anti-American Protests

Anti-American protests — some peaceful, some not — have been seen in many parts of the Islamic world today, as Friday prayers became an opportunity for many to express anger over a film produced in the U.S. that denigrates the Prophet Muhammad.

The Atlantic Wire has a good map that shows where the protests are happening.

Update at 6:17 p.m. ET. Seven Dead:

According to Al Arabiya's count, the protests across the Arab world have cost seven people their lives.

In Tunis, which saw one of the biggest protests today, Tunisia's official news agency said that two people died and 29 others were injured. Both of the dead were protesters.

Al Arabiya reports that three were killed in Sudan, one in Lebanon and one in Egypt.

The New York Times reports that the broadening protests and attacks against the embassies of the United States and its allies reflects a "catharsis of rage at the Western powers."

Update at 11:50 a.m. ET:

In the Tunisian capital, the American School was set fire after hundreds of protesters marched through the streets, Reuters reports.

The AP says:

at least three people were killed and more than two dozen wounded, state television said after police gunfire near the U.S. embassy in the city that was the cradle of last year's Arab Spring uprisings for democracy.

The news agency says thousands of protesters gathered for more or less peaceful demonstrations in Iran, Iraq and Bahrain. Hundreds protested in Israel, the West Bank and Syria.

Update at 10:30 a.m. ET:

In Lebanon, where Pope Benedict is visiting, security officials say police clashed with protesters who set fire to a KFC restaurant in the northeastern city of Tripoli, the AP says. The news agency had initially reported that a second restaurant, an Arby's, was also set ablaze, but a subsequent story said it was a Hardee's restaurant.

Update at 9:00 a.m. ET:

In Khartoum, Sudan, demonstrators appear to be directing their anger more generally at the West, with hundreds storming the German Embassy as police fired tear gas at them, according to the AP. The BBC said the German flag had been ripped down there and replaced with an Islamist banner. The AP also quotes Britain's Foreign Office as saying security forces are confronting protests in front of that country's embassy in Sudan.

The BBC reports that:

"A spokesperson for the UK Foreign Office confirmed to the BBC that a demonstration was taking place outside the embassy in Khartoum, and said Sudanese police were at the scene.

"However, the spokesperson could not say whether protesters had entered the embassy, or whether the demonstration was about the anti-Islam film."

Speaking in Berlin, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle says the buildings are "so far" unharmed and all employees inside the mission are safe.

Update at 8:30 a.m. ET:

In Indian-controlled Kashmir, the AP reports 15,000 people took part in dozens of demonstrations across the region. Protesters called President Obama a "terrorist" and demanded that Americans leave the territory.

Earlier we reported:

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 tear gas 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-Islam film, Fadel says. But the group later canceled the call due to the escalation in violence at protests already under way near Tahrir Square in the capital.

Meanwhile, The AP reports about 2,000 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, tear gas 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 Indonesian capital, Jakarta, chanting "death to Jews!" and "death to America!" Protests were also reported in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.