Bangladesh Muslims protest, blocked from march on U.S. embassy

DHAKA Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:47am EDT

1 of 3. Bangladeshi Muslims shout slogans during a protest in front of the National Mosque in Dhaka September 14, 2012. Around 10,000 Muslims from half a dozen Islamist groups staged a noisy protest in the capital Dhaka on Friday over the U.S. film said to have insulted the Prophet Mohammad.

Credit: Reuters/Andrew Biraj

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DHAKA (Reuters) - About 1,000 Bangladeshi Islamists tried to march on the U.S. embassy in Dhaka on Thursday to protest against a U.S. film that is said to insult the Prophet Mohammad but security forces stopped them reaching the mission, police and witnesses said.

Anti-U.S. protests have erupted in several countries this week. On Tuesday night, gunmen stormed the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the U.S. ambassador and three other members of staff were killed.

In Bangladesh, about 1,000 members of the Khelafat Andolon group demonstrated in the capital and threatened to step up their protests after they were blocked from approaching the U.S. embassy. There were no reports of violence.

"We will stage bigger protests over the issue and may also besiege the U.S. embassy," said Moulana Hemayetuddin, a senior leader of the group.

The protesters wearing white caps threw their fists in the air as they chanted anti-U.S. slogans. They burned a U.S. flag and demanded an immediate apology from the United States.

Police said security around the embassy had been tightened ahead of Friday, the day for weekly Muslim prayers when big crowds can gather. Embassy officials were not available for comment.

For Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous and caricatures or other characterizations have in the past provoked protests across the Muslim world.

Clips of the movie, posted on YouTube under several titles including "Innocence of Muslims", portrayed the Prophet engaged in crude and offensive behavior.

Clips had been posted online for weeks before apparently triggering violent demonstrations.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has postponed a trip to Norway, where he was due to sign a partnership agreement, because of the disturbances in other parts of the Muslim world, Norway's Foreign Ministry said.

"President Karzai postponed his visit due to the serious events in some Arab countries over the past several days as he sees a need to remain in Afghanistan during this period," the ministry said.

In the past, material and actions deemed insulting to Islam have sparked deadly riots in Afghanistan.

(Reporting by Anis Ahmed in Dhaka, Balazs Koranyi in Oslo and Amie Ferris-Rotman in Kabul; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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