Germany’s embassy in the Sudanese capital Khartoum was set on fire after it was stormed by protestors outraged by an internet video mocking Islam, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.
No one at the embassy was injured and all staffers “are safe,” Westerwelle said at a news conference in Berlin today. He demanded the Sudanese government restore security at the embassy as required by international treaties, while declining to give details of the attack.
Demonstrations against the film about the Prophet Muhammad have rippled across several Islamic countries to Sudan. Egypt’s main Islamist groups appealed for calm today after the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three embassy staff were killed in an attack in Benghazi.
“I understand the outrage in the Islamic world about this anti-Islamic hate video,” Westerwelle said. “I condemn this shameful video” which “hurts the feelings of millions of believers. But it isn’t a justification for violence,” including killings. “This violence must stop immediately.”
The crowd did not try to break into the British embassy, which shares a compound with the German mission, and U.K. staff were able to take in the Germans, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said in an e-mailed statement.
“We remained in close contact with the Germans throughout the incident and were able to offer shelter to German diplomats,” Hague said. “I am very grateful for the close coordination with our German colleagues throughout this incident.”
Crowds also protested outside the U.S. embassy compound, with tear gas used against demonstrators, according to a U.S. official.
Thousands of protesters chanted anti-U.S. and pro-Islamic slogans before storming the German embassy and trying to enter the British embassy, said Abdullah Muhanad, a 19-year-old student who lives on Baladeya Street where the embassies are situated. They attacked the facade of the German representation, tore down the German flag and replaced it with an Islamist one, Muhanad said in a telephone interview.
“This is the first time I’ve ever seen these large numbers of angry people in Sudan,” he said.
Sudan’s Foreign Ministry earlier summoned the U.S. charge d’affaires and the German ambassador for talks about the film, the state-run Sudan News Agency reported. The ministry rejected the film and its portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad, SUNA said.
Police dispersed protesters trying to storm the U.S. embassy in the Sudanese capital, two eyewitnesses, Hussein Rahmi and Shamel Mohamed, said in phone interviews from the city.
All U.S. embassy personnel are safe and there was no damage to the building, spokesman Ron Hawkins said by phone. Most of the personnel were not in the embassy because it’s a weekend, he said.
“There are demonstrations outside the U.S. embassy compound,” Hawkins said. “Local police are using tear gas to help keep things down.”
The Sudanese ambassador in Berlin was summoned to the Foreign Ministry and reminded “in no uncertain terms” of his government’s responsibility to protect German diplomatic sites, the Foreign Ministry said in an e-mailed statement.
The U.K. has raised “serious concerns” with the Sudanese ambassador in London and reminded the Sudanese government of its obligation to protect diplomatic premises, Hague said.