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Protests sweep Islamic world, fueled by domestic politics, anti-US anger

Protesters who attacked embassies and clashed with police in at least 17 Muslim countries outraged by more than an anti-Islam video.

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Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, condemned a historic string of Western insults, saying that an "evil chain – namely Salman Rushdie, the Danish cartoonist and Quran-burning American priests," showed that the US and "evil Zionist groups are furious at the increasing brilliance of Islam... in the world today."

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In Khartoum, where antigovernment protests earlier this year were easily crushed, security forces did not prevent crowds from attacking the downtown British and German embassies before driving farther out to the US embassy.

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In Yemen, a president's apology

In Yemen, security forces were significantly reinforced today to prevent a repeat of yesterday's breach of the US Embassy compound. President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi issued an apology to President Obama and the American people, and vowed to investigate.

Hundreds of Yemenis nevertheless converged today toward the embassy compound after Friday prayers. Security forces held them back with tear gas and warning bullets at a barrier a mile from the embassy.

While the protests were sparked by the anti-Islam film, Yemenis have long resented what they consider American "meddling" in Yemeni affairs. Many Yemenis bristle at continuing American drone strikes in the country, one of which left 10 civilians dead last week.

US Ambassador Gerald Feierstein was singled out yesterday as protesters chanted, "Today is your day, oh ambassador!" as they stormed the embassy walls. Today they carried placards with the same words, and another which read: "America is the devil."

Gaza leaders rally the crowds

In the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, Islamic Jihad and Hamas leaders encouraged a strong display of anti-Americanism.

In Gaza City, thousands chanted "Death to America" and "Death to Jews," and heard speeches from party leaders blaming the US for allowing the release of the film. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya told protesters that "The criminals behind the release of the film must be brought to justice. This film is meant to ignite a sectarian war in the Middle East."

The US is widely demonized in Palestinian territories for its staunch pro-Israel policies. Many marched today to express anger at those policies, burning US and Israeli flags along the way.

"We are here to show America and Israel that we will not stay our hand," said Mohammed Dahman, who carried a green Hamas flag. "Mocking our prophet is a red line. We may be silent at some issues ... but we will get so violent when it comes to our prophet and our creed."

He said he admired the Libyans who sacked the consulate in Benghazi and killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens. "It's a great loss that there is no American embassy here so we could pour out our fierce anger on them," said Mr. Dahman. "I would have killed them all if I had the chance."

But Majed Aadas, an English teacher, said killing is against the teachings of Islam.


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