(MENAFN - Arab News) Hundreds of protesters in Istanbul burned US and Israeli flags yesterday in a heated reaction against an American film and French cartoons that have sparked dearly riots across the Middle East and North Africa.
Around 500 people gathered around the Turkish city's iconic Taksim Square, chanting "Allahu Akbar" as they burned Western flags in a display of fury for the inflammatory depictions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
The crowd unfurled banners reading "Death to America" and "Death to France" as they shouted anti-Western slogans, urging the Muslim world to react against the anti-Islamic depictions in the West.
Riot police were stationed around the square and kept the area, populated with foreign missions, under tight security until the group, which dubbed themselves "Lovers of the Prophet," left peacefully.
Police sealed off access to the French mission.
Hundreds of protesters staged a similar rally in central Athens yesterday, the first such demonstration in Greece.
The protesters chanted "All we have is Muhammad" and held banners reading "We demand an immediate punishment for those who tried to mock our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)" as they prepared to march to the US Embassy.
There were brief moments of tension when some demonstrators hurled bottles at police, who responded with teargas.
Police shut down a subway station and were considering blocking the march before it reached the heavily guarded embassy to prevent possible violence, police officials said. Greece is home to hundreds of thousands of Muslims.
Iranian students gathered at the French Embassy in Tehran yesterday to protest the cartoons, Iran's Fars news agency reported.
They held placards reading "The silence of Muslims is a betrayal of the Qur'an" and "Shiite brothers, Sunni brothers, unity, unity," and chanted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel," Fars said.
In Hermel, eastern Lebanon, thousands of supporters of Hezbollah took part yesterday in the last of a series of protests against the film.
"Death to America! Israel, enemy of Muslims!" chanted the crowd made of men, women in all-covering black chadors and children waving flags.
The Hermel protest was the fifth in a series of demonstrations called for by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah who made a rare public appearance on Sept. 17 and urged supporters to vent their fury over the film.