With protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo over a film on the Prophet Muhammad leaving one person dead and about 250 injured since Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Egypt and other Arab Spring nations against attacking diplomatic missions.
The day after one protester was killed, at least 27 people were injured, and 145 protesters were arrested, police on Saturday morning sealed off the area near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo where the demonstrators had spent four days throwing rocks and petrol bombs at police, Reuters reported.
The film, "The Innocence of Muslims," produced in California, portrays the Prophet Muhammad as a womanizer, child molester and ruthless killer. The protesters in Cairo say the U.S. ambassador should be expelled to punish the United States.
However, Clinton described on Friday the film that provoked an anti-American outrage across the Middle East and beyond as an "awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with." She was speaking at a ceremony in which the bodies of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans killed on Tuesday in Benghazi returned to the country.
At least five protesters were wounded in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, after police opened fire to quell an assault on the U.S. embassy compound on Friday. In Sudan, around 5,000 protesters attacked the embassies of Britain and Germany in the capital of Khartoum on Friday. Also on Friday, hundreds of protesters set alight a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.
Clinton called the attacks misguided and against the spirit of these nations' recent struggles against authoritarian rulers.
"The people of Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Tunisia did not trade the tyranny of a dictator for the tyranny of a mob," she said. "Reasonable people and responsible leaders in these countries need to do everything they can to restore security and hold accountable those behind these violent acts. And we will ... keep taking steps to protect our personnel around the world."
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called on Friday his Egyptian counterpart, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to "underscore the importance of ensuring the safety and security of the U.S. diplomatic mission," according to Pentagon spokesman George Little.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist from the Muslim Brotherhood and the country's first democratically elected leader, has rejected violence and promised to protect diplomatic missions. However, his cabinet has urged Washington to take legal action against those insulting religion.
U.S. President Barack Obama has indicated that the country's relations with Egypt and the other nations where protests are taking place could be at stake if the violence continues. "I don't think that we would consider them an ally, but we don't consider them an enemy," Obama told Telemundo in an interview Thursday. If Morsi's government takes actions that "indicate they're not taking responsibilities, as all other countries do where we have embassies, I think that's going to be a real big problem."
The filmmaker is identified in the casting call as Sam Bacile. According to federal officials, his real name is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who was convicted in 2009 of bank fraud. Some reports say Nakoula, believed to be from Cerritos, Calif., and initially thought to be Jewish, could be a Coptic Christian.
Cindy Garcia, an actress in the film, told CNN that the original script did not include a Prophet Muhammad character. She said she and other actors complained that their lines had been changed.