Anti-Islam film protests spread to Sydney

Protesters pray in front of a line of police officers in Sydney's Hyde Park, September 15, 2012. Anger over anti-Islam video "Innocence of Muslims" spread to Australia on Saturday with protesters taking to the streets of Sydney, surprising shoppers and catching police off guard.

SYDNEY - Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in Sydney on Saturday, as a wave of unrest against a film that mocks Islam spread to Australia, with bottles and shoes hurled outside the US consulate.

Furious protests targeting symbols of US influence flared in cities across the Muslim world on Friday in retaliation for a crude film made in the United States by a right-wing Christian group that ridicules the Prophet Mohammed.

At least six protesters died in Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon and Sudan as police there battled to defend American missions from mobs of stone-throwers, and Washington deployed US Marines to protect its embassies in Libya and Yemen.

In Sydney, Saturday shoppers looked on in surprise as protesters, including children, shouted "Down, down USA" and waved banners such as "Behead all those who insult the prophet".

"We are sick and tired of everyone mocking our beloved prophet," protester Houda Dib told AFP, as the crowd of about 500 gathered outside the US consulate.

"They have no right to mock our prophet. We don't go around mocking anyone's religion."

"They call us the terrorists," protester Sarah Jacob said. "But everyone is terrorising our people."

Demonstrators were pushed back from the steps outside the consulate by police, provoking anger among some in the crowd, many of whom had brought their children with them.

"They were aggravating the situation by pushing our brothers," Dib said.

"This is supposed to be a peaceful protest."

The protesters later moved to nearby Hyde Park, where one speaker called for calm, saying the aim of their protest had been to send a message.

"We are here for the sake of our god," he said. "The message is clear, you cannot mock (the prophet)."

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