News24

Security boosted at US Cairo embassy

2012-09-12 13:05

Cairo - Security has been stepped up in the area around the US embassy in Cairo, a security official told AFP, after a film deemed offensive to Islam sparked violence outside the US missions in Egypt and Libya.

"There is an increased security presence in central Cairo, particularly around the American embassy, following the protest yesterday," the official told AFP.

He said that no arrests had been made after some protesters scaled the wall of the embassy.

Coptic activists plan to stage a vigil on Wednesday in protest against the film, they said in a statement.

The film at the centre of the controversy, which sparked the attack in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi that killed US Ambassador J Christopher Stevens, was made by an Israeli-American, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In Egypt, however, the perception in the media inflamed by fundamentalist Muslim preachers on satellite channels is that the film was made by Egyptian Copts living in the United States.

The Maspero Youth Union (MYU) and the Coalition of Coptic Egypt condemned "all sorts of contempt or disdain against any religion, as well as to the sowing of sedition between people who embrace different religions," the statement said.

The MYU said it would hold a vigil outside the US embassy in Cairo "to protest against the film that insults Islam and the Prophet Mohammed".

Discrimination

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the MYU said that "the Copts who took part in the production of the film in question are not representative of mainstream Coptic patriotism... these Copts neither represent Christianity or the Church, nor the Copts of the diaspora".

Father Hani Bakhoum, secretary of the Patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church Anba Antonius Nagib, told the weekly Al-Watani newspaper that members of the Patriarchs and Bishops Council of the Catholic Church "totally denounce all forms of disdain to religious symbols, a practice that contradicts the teachings of the Holy Bible which advocates love and respect for all".

The film is likely to put pressure on Egypt's Christian community, which makes up about 10% of the country's 82-million population.

Copts, who have regularly complained of discrimination and have been the targets of numerous sectarian attacks, have been nervous since a popular uprising ousted president Hosni Mubarak and brought Islamists to power.

The film at the centre of Tuesday's anti-US protests prompted an armed mob to attack the US mission in Benghazi, killing Ambassador Stevens and three consulate officials.

The incident came after thousands of demonstrators tore down the flag at the American embassy in Cairo and replaced it with a black Islamic flag, similar to one adopted by several militant groups.