Protesters climbed the walls of the US embassy in Egypt's capital today and brought down the American flag, replacing it with a black Islamist flag to protest a US-produced film attacking the Prophet Mohammed. Hours later, armed men in eastern Libya stormed the US consulate in Benghazi and set it on fire as anger spread. A Libyan security official says one American consulate employee was shot dead in the assault and another was wounded in the hand. Details were still sketchy.
The origins of the video are a bit murky, but a trailer in English on YouTube ridicules Mohammed as a fraud, a womanizer, and a madman. It reportedly depicts him having sex and calling for masseuses. Morris Sadek, an Egyptian-born Christian in the US known for his anti-Islam views, said he was promoting the video on his website and on TV. Sam Bacile, an American citizen who said he produced, directed, and wrote the two-hour film, said he had not anticipated such a furious reaction. Both said the main point of the film is intended to show how Coptic Christians are oppressed in Egypt, a reflection of their contention that Islam is inherently oppressive. For several days, Egyptian media have been playing excerpts and blaming Sadek for it. (Read more Egypt stories.)