- Created on Friday, 21 September 2012 20:15
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A peaceful protest in Lebanon and a violent one in Pakistan highlighted Friday demonstrations against a film and series of cartoons recently published in France mocking the Muslim Prophet Mohammed.
The United States and Germany closed some diplomatic facilities in expectation that protests could intensify after weekly prayer services Friday.
Since September 11, when protesters breached the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and a separate protest in Libya ended in the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, Muslims have staged protests in more than 20 countries.
The protests have focused on the film "Innocence of Muslims," as well as cartoons published by the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, and heavy criticism of the United States and Western cultures for allowing what Muslims view as unacceptable smears against their faith.
Protesters burn cinemas in Pakistan
Pakistan's interior minister warned that the government will take "strict action" in response to the destruction of property after protesters in Peshawar, Pakistan, set fire to two movie theaters Friday morning, killing one person and injuring dozens, according to officials.
"We have also alerted the army; if things get worse, they will come in," Rehmam Malik told reporters Friday afternoon in Islamabad. "I said it yesterday and I'm saying it again, we mean business."
Firefighters extinguished one of the Peshawar theater blazes in about 90 minutes but were not able to get to the other one, said Nadir Shah, a fire brigade official.
At least 25 people were injured, three of them critically, said Majid Qureshi, a doctor at a local hospital. A member of the media was also shot in killed in the protest, Qureshi said.
Peshawar police said four policemen were also injured.
The protests blossomed despite the suspension of cell phone service Thursday night.
Crowds of protesters were reported in Islamabad, and CNN affiliate Geo TV reported protests in Rawalpindi and Karachi.
The protests come a day after about 100 children in Karachi chanted anti-American slogans during a protest in the coastal Pakistani city, a police official said.
Video showed children repeating an adult voice that said "Death to America" and "Any friend of America is a traitor."
Hezbollah protest in Lebanon
Supporters of Hezbollah, a militant Islamist group deemed a terrorist organization by the United States, marched Friday in a peaceful demonstration "in support of the Prophet Mohammed," Hezbollah TV channel al-Manar reported Friday.
Video showed a stream of people marching slowly down the streets with signs reading, "Loyalty and the victory of the Prophet Mohammed."
Diplomatic facilities close
The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, its consular offices in Surabaya and Bali and two other facilities were closed Friday because of the "potential for significant demonstrations that might be held in front of these facilities." officials said in a news statement.
Germany also closed its embassy in Sudan's capital city of Khartoum on Friday in anticipation of protests over the cartoon published in Charlie Hebdo, state-run Ashorooq TV reported.
"Security measures have been tightened at other diplomatic missions abroad," Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.
Tunisian authorities ban all demonstrations Friday
Seeking to avoid a repeat of what happened one week earlier, Tunisia's Interior Ministry banned all demonstrations Friday, the state-run Tunisian News Agency (TAP) reported, citing a statement from the ministry.
The report said the protest ban is "in accordance with the provisions of the state of emergency" that has been in place since the ouster January of its longtime president, Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.
The statement refers to "calls launched via social networks" to demonstrate over the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. And it comes a week after four protesters died and 49 were wounded during an assault on the U.S. Embassy in the capital of Tunis, TAP previously reported, citing Souad Sadraoui, interim general director of Charles Nicolle Hospital.
Presidential spokesman Adnene Mansar denounced Charlie Hebdo's publication of the cartoons as a "deliberate insult," adding that "some circles are deliberately seeking to stir up tension in relations binding the Muslim and Western worlds."
"We should not fall in the trap of provocation, we should rather denounce these acts by peaceful means," Mansar said, according to a TAP report.
In another TAP report, National Constituent Assembly Speaker Mustapha Ben Jaafar said that the bloody September 14 protests "do not reflect the mood of the moderate and tolerant Tunisian people."
"Political, ideological and religious violence is (no) longer tolerated in present-day Tunisia," Jaafar said in Strasbourg in eastern France, calling abiding by the "rule of law ... an absolute priority."