Pinoy Muslims burn US, Israeli flags over film

Posted at 09/17/12 10:55 PM

Filipino Muslims burn US and Israeli flags attached to a tarpaulin during a protest against an anti-Islam film, in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur on Monday. The low-budget movie, entitled "Innocence of Muslims", has sparked fury across the Islamic world for mocking the Prophet Mohammed, and for portraying Muslims as immoral and gratuitously violent. Photo by Richel Umel, AFP

MARAWI CITY, Philippines - About 3,000 Filipino Muslims burned US and Israeli flags in a protest on Monday over an American anti-Islam film that has sparked unrest worldwide.

The protesters in the southern city of Marawi gathered in a public square to express their anger at the movie, stamping on huge American and Israeli flags that they then set on fire.

The protesters carried placards saying, "Americans are satanic" and "Israeli Jews... enemy of Muslim Ummah (community)" in the Muslim-majority city with some protesters calling on President Benigno Aquino to ban the film.

However, there were no untoward incidents during the rally.

Meanwhile, Aquino told reporters he did not have the power to ban the low-budget US film that has sparked fury across the Islamic world.

"Don't forget in our constitution, we have freedom of expression and we are not allowed to have laws limiting freedom of speech," he said.

However he said the government movie censors board could ban the movie from being shown in local theatres or television.

In the wake of the global unrest, security has been tightened at foreign embassies and ambassadors' residences and even for US troops based in the country's south to help train local soldiers to hunt Al-Qaeda linked extremists.

"We are carrying out our own precautions complemented by continuous monitoring by our operatives of possible threats," national police spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo said.

However he said there were no reports of any possible threats and praised local Muslim leaders for preventing any violence.

A day earlier, the country's main Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said it had instructed its 12,000 members to observe a ceasefire pact with the government, and not attack US targets in the country.

The MILF is engaged in peace talks with the government for an autonomous region in the southern Philippines which the Muslim minority of this largely-Christian nation considers their ancestral homeland.