Thursday, September 13, 2012

Film Protests in Sana'a

Protests associated with the anti-Islam video have spread to Yemen:
"The worst of the violence was in Yemen, where at least five Yemenis were killed as hundreds of protesters stormed the American Embassy and were repulsed by Yemeni security forces. The embassy’s entire staff, sensitive to impending danger, had been safely evacuated hours beforehand, and Yemeni leaders apologized to President Obama for the mayhem.
"But some assailants were able to burn cars, plunder office equipment including computers, burn an American flag and hoist their own proclaiming fealty to Islam. Witnesses and Yemeni officials said at least 10 American Embassy vehicles had been damaged or destroyed by fire...
"The Yemen protests came hours after a Muslim cleric, Abdul Majid al- Zindani, urged followers to emulate the protests in Libya and Egypt, Sana residents said. Mr. Zindani, a onetime mentor to Osama bin Laden, was named a 'specially designated global terrorist' by the United States Treasury Department in 2004."
Tomorrow is Friday, when Islamists traditionally turn out their supporters for mass protests, but so far I'm actually struck by how small they are.  All this really seems to be the work of a fringe.  I'm not talking about the way salafis are a fringe in global Islam that just happens to be stronger in the Arab world, but rather that even those of salafi sympathies seem to be staying home.  "Hundreds" just isn't that many in huge metropolitan areas.

One place to watch is Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood is apparently going ahead with plans for a peaceful protest against the video even as it condemns the violence of yesterday.  That movement is trying to triangulate between a desire to appear as as responsible government and a desire to preserve its conservative flank against salafi opposition and the accusations that its leaders are American stooges.  This could lead Egypt further in a troubling direction.

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