Egyptian protesters stormed the United States embassy on Tuesday, scaling the walls of the building and tearing down the flag as part of a religious protest.
The crowd claimed that the production of a film in the United States that insulted the Prophet Mohammad had led them to the building, where they pulled down the American flag and tore it up with some showing pieces to nearby television cameras, and others burning it. In the place of the fallen flag the protestors attempted to raise a black flag reading “There is no God but God, and Mohammad is his messenger.”
A large percentage of Muslims believe any depiction of Mohammed to be offensive, which lead to the march on the embassy in Cairo. Though some 2,000 people showed up in protest of the film, the movie responsible for the controversy could not be specified. Still, demonstrators expressed their outrage.
“This movie must be banned immediately and an apology should be made,” 19-year-old Ismail Mahmoud told Reuters. The boy identified himself as a member of the “ultras,” a group of young soccer supporters who took part in the uprising against Hosni Mubarak last year. The “ultras” were one of several groups that turned out in support of the demonstration.
“We are obviously working with Egyptian security to try to restore order at the embassy and to work with them to try to get the situation under control,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, confirming that the embassy’s flag had been removed. Early on Tuesday the U.S. embassy released a statement attempting to diffuse tension among Egyptians. “We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others,” the statement read.
Such demonstrations have becoming commonplace in Egypt since the “Arab Spring” last year. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had her motorcade struck with tomatoes during her visit to Egypt after the election of current President Mohamed Mursi. After Tuesday’s protest, the walls of the embassy were left with a message: “If your freedom of speech has no limits, may you accept our freedom of action.”