Protesters enraged by a film mocking the Prophet Mohammad battled with police in several Asian cities on Monday and vented their fury against the United States, blaming it for what they see as an attack on the Muslim religion.
Police fired in the air to break up a crowd marching on the U.S. consulate in the Pakistani city of Karachi while in Afghanistan and Indonesia people burnt U.S. flags and chanted “Death to America”.
Indonesian police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of demonstrators who massed outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, capital of the most populous Muslim nation.
In Kabul, protesters set fire to cars and shops and threw stones at police.
“We will defend our prophet until we have blood across our bodies. We will not let anyone insult him,” said one protester in the Afghan capital. “Americans will pay for their dishonour.”
Thousands also marched in Beirut, where a Hezbollah leader accused U.S. spy agencies of being behind events that have unleashed a wave of anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim and Arab world.
The demonstrations were the latest across the world ignited by a short film made with private funds in the United States and posted on the Internet that depicted the Prophet Mohammad as a fool, a womaniser and a homosexual.
The situation saddles U.S. President Barack Obama with an unexpected foreign policy headache as he campaigns for re-election in November, even though his administration has condemned the film as reprehensible and disgusting.
In a torrent of violence last week, the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed in an attack in Benghazi and U.S. and other foreign embassies were stormed in cities in Asia, Africa and the Middle East by furious Muslims. At least nine other people have been killed.
Washington has sent ships, extra troops and special forces to protect U.S. interests and citizens in the Middle East, while a number of its embassies have evacuated staff and are on high alert for trouble.