Thousands in Kashmir protest anti-Islam film
SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Thousands of Kashmiri Muslims protested Friday against an anti-Islam film, burning U.S. flags and calling President Barack Obama a "terrorist," while the top government cleric here reportedly demanded Americans leave the volatile Indian-controlled region immediately.
In the southern Indian city of Chennai, protesters threw stones at the U.S. Consulate, shattering some windows and burning Obama in effigy. Police quickly cleared the area, arresting more than 100 protesters. U.S. Embassy officials in Delhi did not immediately comment.
In Bangladesh, about 5,000 hardline Muslims marched in Dhaka's streets after Friday prayers, burning U.S. and Israeli flags and calling for the death of the filmmaker. Police prevented them from marching toward the U.S. Embassy several miles away.
"Innocence of Muslims," produced by a filmmaker in the United States, ridicules Islam and depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a madman. American and Middle Eastern leaders have denounced the film and condemned acts of violence by protesters. In Libya, the American ambassador and three other staff members were killed when the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was attacked.
Authorities in Indian-controlled Kashmir have asked the Indian government to block online clips from the film, the region's top police official Ashok Prasad said Friday.
Across Kashmir, at least 15,000 people took part in more than two dozen protests, chanting "Down with America" and "Down with Israel" in some of the largest anti-American demonstrations against the film in Asia.
"The U.S. citizens visiting Kashmir should leave immediately as the sentiments of the Muslims have been hurt by these pictures," Mufti Bashiruddin Ahmad, Kashmir's state-appointed cleric, was quoted as telling the Kashmir Reader, an English daily.
U.S. Embassy officials sent out a message reiterating its call for citizens to stay away from Kashmir, a volatile territory where many oppose India's rule. Police said they were investigating the cleric's statement.
Though many local separatists groups disavowed the threat to Americans, local authorities put five top separatist leaders under house arrest, a common action when protests or violence is expected.
Jamat-e-Islami, Kashmir's biggest Islamic party, demanded the U.S. government act against the filmmakers.
"If America is true in its claim of being against any kind of religious blasphemy, then it should lose no time in taking stern action against these enemies of humanity," the party's statement said.
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