SANAA, Yemen – The US embassy compound in Yemen’s capital has been stormed by hundreds of protestors, just two days after US consulates in Cairo, Egypt and Benghazi, Libya were attacked.
In Sanaa, demonstrators reportedly chanted “death to America” while tearing down the embassy’s sign on the outer wall, setting tires ablaze, and throwing rocks at the compound. The mob then breached security around the embassy and reached the compound grounds. Protestors did not enter the main building containing the offices but did bring down the US flag. The flag was burned and replaced with a black banner bearing Islam’s declaration of faith: “There is no God but Allah.”
The latest attack on a US diplomatic mission comes in the wake of an anti-Islam film that has provoked fury throughout many Muslim countries. In Libya, American Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed when their US consulate was stormed. Protesters in Egypt are currently clashing with police near the US Embassy in Cairo for the third consecutive day.
The latest outburst of violence is the result of the movie Innocence of Muslims, an amateur production that was brought to public attention in Egypt after its trailer was dubbed into Arabic and posted on YouTube. The video-sharing website has since blocked access to the footage, which reportedly portrays Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer, and a madman in an deliberately mocking way. In the film, the prophet is depicted having sex and calling for massacres.
Concern is growing that further protests against the film may now occur in other Muslim nations. Following the various outbreaks of violence, the film’s maker, Sam Bacile, has gone into hiding.
The demonstrators in Sanaa were dispersed by Yemeni security forces, who fired in the air and used tear gas to drive the mob out of the compound. It is unknown if the embassy was occupied at the time of the attack.
The Yemeni consulate in Washington has condemned the storming of the embassy and promised to ensure the safety of foreign diplomats with stronger security measures in the country.