Friday, September 14, 2012

Consulate attack in Benghazi galvanizes the masses

Benghazi consulate attack:

Wednesday brought confirmation that U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other American diplomats were killed in Tuesday's attack on the U.S. Consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. The consulate building was set on fire by protesters enraged over a film made in the United States that depicts the Prophet Mohammed in a derogatory manner. Similar violent protests have occurred in Egypt and other parts of the Middle East and could spread to the wider Islamic world by Friday. Ansar al-Sharia, a radical Islamist group, claimed responsibility for the attack which took advantage of the security vacuum in Benghazi left behind from last year’s uprising. The incident raised questions as to why increased security measures had not been enforced at the consulate following an attack by Islamic militants on the same building back in June. The British Ambassador’s convoy had also been attacked in Benghazi earlier on in the year illustrating an increased security risk to diplomatic staff operating in the city.

Demonstrations after Friday Prayers:

Following demonstrations in other areas of the Middle East and north Africa, it seems likely that Islamists in Iraq may stage similar demonstrations after Friday prayers. The last religious demonstration to turn violent in Iraq was back in May when 1000s took to the streets of Kurdistan’s capital Erbil, demanding swift punishment for the editor of a Kurdish magazine who had printed an article deemed offensive to Islam by local religious figures. Given the US Embassy’s location inside the IZ, protests may take place in Tahrir Square in the capital’s eastern city centre, or similarly, protests may be witnessed outside either of the American consulates in Kirkuk and Basra city.  

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