Iran plans protests over anti-Islam film
TEHRAN — Iran has condemned a film insulting Islam that sparked a deadly protest in Libya killing the US ambassador, while Iranian media reported an anti-US protest over the movie would take place in Tehran on Thursday.
A foreign ministry statement slammed the film, an amateur production made in the United States, as “repulsive” and said the US government’s “silence” encouraged such offences to Islam.
The Iranian statement made no mention of the attacks on US diplomatic compounds in Egypt and Libya by ultra-conservative Muslims protesting the film.
In the Libya attack, US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other US officials were killed when a mob stormed the consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi.
Iranian media, including news agencies ISNA, Fars and Mehr, all reported that a protest over the movie would take place in Tehran on Thursday around 12:00 pm (0730 GMT) in front of the Swiss embassy, which hosts a US interests section in the absence of Iran-US diplomatic relations.
The news agencies said the demonstration was called by the Student Islamic Society, a hardline group active in Iran’s universities that has held anti-Western rallies in the past.
“The members of this society along with other students will hold a gathering in front of the Swiss embassy, which holds the US interests section, to protest and condemn this inulting action by the Americans against Muslim holy figures. We ask all Iranians to take part in this gathering,” Fars quoted the group’s secretary general, Abolfazl Chamandi, as saying.
Foreign journalists are barred from covering any protests in Iran, making it difficult to verify how many people attend or what action they take.
The foreign ministry statement on the film, issued by spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast, said: “The Islamic republic of Iran strongly condemns insults to Islamic sanctities and sympathises with the hurt feelings of the Islamic Umma (community).
“The US government’s systematic and continued silence on such repulsive acts is the fundamental reason that they keep happening,” and Washington “has the responsibility to stop this dangerous trend,” state media quoted the statement as saying.
The film at the centre of the protests was made by an Israeli-American who describes Islam as a “cancer” and depicts the Prophet Mohammed sleeping with women, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones, who has drawn protests in the past for burning the Koran, is also promoting the film.