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September 19, 2012

French cartoons inflame prophet film tensions

(Continued)

The debate about the limits of free expression spread to neighboring Germany, where Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Wednesday, "I call on all those, especially those who rightly invoke the right of freedom of speech, to also act responsibly. The one who now puts more oil on the fire on purpose, with obvious effect, is not the greatest thinker."

Speaking in Berlin, he said the German Embassy in Sudan, which was attacked last week, remains closed and security at the country's embassies in other countries has been beefed up.

In Pakistan, the lawyers who protested in Islamabad shouted anti-U.S. slogans and burned an American flag after they pushed through a gate, gaining access to the diplomatic enclave before police stopped them. They called for the U.S. ambassador to be expelled from the country, and then peacefully dispersed.

Much of the anger over the film, which denigrates Islam's Prophet Muhammad, has been directed at the U.S. government even though the film was privately produced in the United States and American officials have criticized it.

The U.S. Embassy in Indonesia sent a text message to U.S. citizens saying that the consulate in Medan, the country's third-largest city, has been closed temporarily because of demonstrations over the film.

About 300 members of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, a pan-Islamic movement, rallied peacefully on Wednesday in front of the consulate in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province. Later, about 50 Muslim students also protested there. Both groups called on Washington to punish the makers of the film.

On Tuesday, Islamic militants sought to capitalize on anger over the film, saying a suicide bombing that killed 12 people in Afghanistan was revenge for the video and calling for attacks on U.S. diplomats and facilities in North Africa.

___

Nicolas Garriga and Jeff Schaeffer in Paris, Juergen Baetz in Berlin and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.


 



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