As anti-American riots spread to Australia, Al Qaeda urged Muslims to step up protests and kill more U.S. diplomats in Muslim countries in response to the U.S.-made film which mocks the Prophet Mohammed.
The terror group made the appeal as riot police clashed with around 200 protesters at the U.S. Consulate in Sydney on Saturday as demonstrations against the anti-Islam film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ spread across the world.
The Al Qaeda statement said; ‘Whoever comes across America’s ambassadors or emissaries should follow the example of Omar al-Mukhtar’s descendants (Libyans), who killed the American ambassador,’ the group said, referring to Tuesday’s attack on the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi.
‘Let the step of kicking out the embassies be a step towards liberating Muslim countries from the American hegemony,’ a statement posted on an (AQAP) website on Saturday said.
In Australia, Ten Network television news showed a policeman knocked unconscious as the mostly male crowd hurled bottles and other missiles. Many of the protesters were wearing Muslim dress.
Police used pepper spray against the protesters, who chanted ‘Obama, Obama, we love Osama’ and waved placards saying ‘Behead all those who insult the Prophet.’
Fury about the film swept across the Middle East after Friday prayers, with protesters attacking U.S. embassies and in protests that killed at least seven people and prompted Washington to send troops to bolster security at its missions.
‘The film published in America which insults our Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, comes as part of the continuing crusader wars against Islam,’ AQAP’s statement said, referring to European wars in the region some 1,000 years ago.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, is mostly militants mainly from Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and is regarded by the United States as the most dangerous branch of the network founded by Osama bin Laden.
The group has used Yemen, a key regional U.S. ally, to plot attacks on the United States. Washington has backed a Yemeni army campaign that drove al Qaeda and its allies from their southern stronghold this year.
Muslims have blamed the U.S. government for the amateurish film of obscure origin. Washington has condemned the film and said it does not condone any insult to any religion.
Praising the attacks by angry demonstrators in Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Sudan on U.S. and other Western missions as ‘natural responses to a huge insult’, the statement said that American embassies should be burned and diplomats killed.
It said defending the Prophet’s honor was a “religious duty and obligation to the Muslim nation, each according to his ability”.
The group also said that Muslims living in the West have an extra duty to be involved in attacks on key targets.
‘They are more capable of doing harm and reaching the enemy is easier for them,’ it said.
Impoverished Yemen is struggling against challenges on many fronts since mass protests forced president Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down last year after decades in power.
The United States, eager to help the country recover from the upheaval that has pushed it to the brink of collapse, has said it would provide $345 million in security, humanitarian and development aid this year, more than double last year.
A total of six police officers were injured, including two who were taken to a hospital. Two protesters were treated for police dog bites and 17 others for the effects of pepper spray, police said in a statement. There were no details of their condition.
In Australia, Eight people were arrested on charges including assaulting police and resisting arrest.
Police said they were unsure who organized the protest.
‘There was little or no organization or control of what they were doing, and their actions were disgraceful,’ police Superintendent Mark Walton said in a statement.
Prime Minister Julian Gillard said the protest was unacceptable.
‘Violent protest is never acceptable – not today, not ever,’ she said in a statement.
Television pictures showed one policeman with a head injury being led away by colleagues.
A spokesman for paramedics said there were no serious injuries.
A police spokesman said the protest was being monitored, with demonstrators gathering in a central Sydney park.
A Muslim leader addressed the protesters in the park, calling for calm.
Australia, a staunch U.S. ally with troops still fighting in Afghanistan, has a Muslim population of about 476,000, or 2.2 percent of the population, according to 2011 census figures.
The violent protests in Australia follow four days of demonstrations across the Arab world, stretching from Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestinian territories, Israel, Sudan, Nigeria, Tunisia and Pakistan.