Bloomberg Saddened, Not Surprised Over Middle East Uproar
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he is saddened but not surprised at the uproar in the Middle East over an anti-Islam film produced in the United States that denigrates the Prophet Muhammad.
Speaking Friday on his weekly WOR radio show, Bloomberg said reaction from the movie is “exactly what you should have expected.”
“Americans cannot fathom why somebody making a movie that denigrates a religion should cause believers in that religion to go and to kill people, but different cultures,” Bloomberg said. “If you were to make that movie, that’s what exactly that you should have expected — people dying.”
Angry protests over the anti-Islam film spread across the Muslim world Friday, with demonstrators scaling the walls of U.S. embassies in Tunisia and Sudan, torching part of a German embassy and clashing with security forces at American fast-food restaurants that were set ablaze in northern Lebanon.
Egypt’s new president went on national TV and appealed to Muslims to not attack embassies, denouncing the violence earlier this week in Libya that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador.
It was Mohammed Morsi’s first public move to restrain protesters after days of near silence appeared aimed at repairing strains with the United States over this week’s violence.
“It is required by our religion to protect our guests and their homes and places of work,” he said.
Police in Cairo prevented stone-throwing demonstrators from nearing the U.S. Embassy, firing tear gas and deploying armored vehicles to push them back in a fourth day of clashes in the Egyptian capital.
The day of protests, which spread to around 20 countries, started small and mostly peacefully in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The most violent demonstrations took place in the Middle East.
The heaviest violence came in Sudan, where a prominent sheik on state radio urged protesters to march on the German Embassy to protest alleged anti-Muslim graffiti on mosques in Berlin and then to the U.S. Embassy to protest the film.
Several hundred protesters stormed the German Embassy in the capital, Khartoum, burning a car parked behind its gates and trash cans.
Police fired tear gas, pushing the protesters outside the embassy’s gates. There appeared to be no injuries to embassy staff and no apparent damage to the building. Most protesters dispersed, but a group marched to protest at the nearby British Embassy.
Several thousand then moved on the American Embassy, on the capital’s outskirts. They tried to storm the mission, clashing with Sudanese police, who opened fire on some who tried to scale the compound’s wall. It was not clear whether any protesters made it into the embassy grounds.
Elsewhere, one protester was killed in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli in clashes with security forces after a crowd of protesters set fire to a KFC and a Hardee’s restaurant. Protesters hurled stones and glass at police in a furious melee that left 25 people wounded, 18 of them police.
In east Jerusalem, Israeli police stopped a crowd of around 400 Palestinians from marching on the U.S. consulate to protest the film. Demonstrators threw bottles and stones at police, who responded by firing stun grenades. Four protesters were arrested.
Security forces in Yemen shot live rounds in the air and fired tear gas at a crowd of around 2,000 protesters trying to march to the
U.S. Embassy in the capital, Sanaa. Though outnumbered by protesters, security forces were able to keep the crowd about a block away from the mission.
As the demonstrations and attacks continue, Long Island Rep. Peter King, who is also the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said Friday that he is concerned about the violence spreading.
“We’re very concerned about Tunisia, we’re concerned about Yemen, we’re concerned about Morocco, we’re concerned about Iraq — I could go through a whole list of countries,” King told 1010 WINS. “So this is something that has to be contained, he has to be stopped.”
Meanwhile, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are going to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland Friday for the return of the remains of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three other Americans killed in the attack of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya this week.
U.S. officials are investigating whether the assault was a coordinated terrorist attack that took advantage of protests over the anti-Muslim video.
(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)