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More than 2,000 people, including some 100 women and children, held a peaceful protest against the film in front of the US embassy in Doha yesterday. The protesters began their march from the premises of the Omar bin Khatab mosque in Medinat Khalifa, where Dr Yousuf Al Qaradawi, Chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, led the Friday prayers and delivered a sermon focusing on the issue.
“Defending the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) cannot be done by chanting slogans, killing diplomats or burning embassies,” Al Qaradawi told worshippers during the sermon, while stressing that the ‘US government is not behind the making of the film’.
He, however, called on the US government to take action against the people who made the film saying that the production or release of this film “cannot be considered as freedom of expression by any means.”
The influential Islamic scholar also encouraged young film-makers to work on films about the life of the Prophet (PBUH) so as to help foreigners understand Islam.
“Qatar will support anyone who wants to make such a film,” he said, praising Qatar for standing up against the anti-Islam film.
Some of the protesters called for the removal of the US Ambassador and demanded the closure of US military base in Qatar.
“People demand shutting down the base,” one of the signs held by a protestor read in Arabic. The demonstrators called for the release of Ali bin Saleh Al Marri, a Qatari national who was arrested on charges of being an Al Qaeda agent in 2001.
A Twitter campaign in Qatar yesterday called for a total ban on the film.
So far a 14-minute clip from the film “Innocence of Muslims” has been released via YouTube, sparking violent protests against the US in more than 21 countries.
However, some people thought the scale of protests was not justified.
“I asked a dozen of people if they had at least watched the movie and they all answered no. Most of them said they don’t want to because it’s insulting and the rest had different excuses,” said Mustafa Sheshtawy in a blogpost.
Protesters also urged the United Nations for tougher anti-blasphemy rules to end insults to religions and beliefs and also called on the US government to insert a clause in the Constitution making it a crime to insult religious beliefs. They said such a legislation will help curb these kinds of incidents and the culprits could be brought to justice easily.
Protests were also reported in Sudan, Egypt, Yemen, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and Bahrain among other countries.