Thousands in KL protest anti-Islam film
UPDATED @ 07:45:50 PM 21-09-2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 — Thousands of Muslims shed their political differences and thronged the streets of the capital this afternoon to condemn the controversial “Innocence of Muslims” video, a short film mocking the Prophet Muhammad that has fuelled international fury and wreaked a storm of violent protests across the Muslim world.
Two simultaneous rallies — one by Umno Youth and another by PAS Youth — drew large crowds of angry protestors to different checkpoints across the city, all chanting praises to Allah and taunting the United States as they pushed their way through the mob.
Outside the Tabung Haji building on Jalan Tun Razak, the protest led by PAS and PKR’s youth wings was joined by at least 5,000 people, including those from Islamic non-governmental organisations Teras Pengupayaan Umat (Teras), Himpunan Hijau Putrajaya, Salamah Shah Alam and Angkatan Belia Islam (ABIM).
The group gathered shortly before 2pm before marching down the 1km stretch to the US Embassy in Lorong Kuda, waving flags of PAS, Malaysia and a modified version of the pre-independence flag Sang Saka, and yelling “Down with America and Zionism”.
“This is not just an Islamic cause, it is a human one. Anyone who insults any religion, it is an insult to humanity itself,” said PKR vice president Tian Chua in his speech to the crowd.
Four representatives ― PKR vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar, Tian Chua, PAS Youth chief Nasruddin Hassan Tantawi and Teras president Azmi Abdul Hamid ― were allowed to present a memorandum to the embassy’s security office, which was received by its head of security.
“America must take full responsibility for this issue. We will show that the patience of Muslims and the non-Muslims is limited.
“If they go on with this, we will take more action,” Azmi told reporters after presenting the memorandum.
The crowd then burned paper printouts of the American and Israeli flags.
Later, ACP Mohan Singh from Cheras district police headquarters told reporters the estimated turnout was 2,800 protesters at the embassy.
“We diverted traffic, as ordered, allowed them to protest, there were no untoward incidents and after presenting the memorandum, they dispersed. We are content because this protest was done peacefully,” Mohan said.
Barely 5km across the city at the iconic Masjid Jamek in Jalan Tun Perak, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin led over 2,000 people, including members of Malay rights group Perkasa, Majlis Belia Malaysia and Puteri Umno, to protest the controversial film.
The Rembau MP praised PAS for agreeding to shed its political differences and take a stand along with Umno for the sake of Muslim solidarity.
“Two days ago, I phoned PAS’s Nasrudin Tantawi and together we agreed to put aside our differences.
“Umno Youth gathers today in solidarity with PAS, unlike their political allies,” Khairy said, criticising PAS’s partners in Pakatan Rakyat (PR) for not joining the party in today’s protests.
The crowd was seen carrying banners and flags professing belief in the Prophet Muhammad and calling for action to be taken by the French and United States governments against those who made the video and the cartoon.
“Our enemy is not the United States, France or any other religion, but those involved in the film and the cartoon,” Khairy said.
“We want both governments to take action against these people. The freedom of speech has its limits and must have a care for respect and responsibility.”
US embassies worldwide have all been placed on high alert following protests against the controversial video, which have even led to the death of a US ambassador and three other Americans last week during a protest at the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi.
The crudely made 13-minute English-language film that mocks the Prophet Muhammad was produced by American Sam Bacile, filmed in California and circulated on the Internet under several titles including “Innocence of Muslims”.
Clips of the film posted on the Internet since July have been attributed to Bacile, which two people linked to the film have said was likely an alias.
For many Muslims, any depiction of the prophet is blasphemous. Caricatures deemed insulting in the past have provoked protests and drawn condemnations from officials, preachers, ordinary Muslims and many Christians.