The US Embassy in Cairo is shown by the star in the map above. This is in the central city just south of Tahrir Square, the site of the dramatic protests that resulted in the resignation of Hosni Mubarak. Thursday night the Egyptian government placed several large concrete blocks in the streets between Tahrir Square and the embassy grounds.
The events of September 14, 2012 — the 27th of Shawwal — may be more influential than usual, especially in regard to homeland security.
Tripoli (Libya) and Cairo are six hours ahead of New York. At 6:00AM in New York it is 12 noon in Cairo. Sana, Yemen is seven hours ahead of New York.
Friday is the Islamic day of assembly, especially committed to communal prayer. The mid-day or Dhuhr prayer is scheduled for just about noon local time. Several Islamic organizations in Egypt have called for a “Friday of Anger” to protest the anti-Islamic video entitled “Innocence of Muslims” that was produced in the United States. The protests are likely to surge following the mid-day prayer. Similar protests have been called in Yemen, Sudan, Iraq, and elsewhere.
Pope Benedict is scheduled to land in Beirut at about 12:45 PM local time. The Pope is to consult with Lebanese and regional political and religious leaders, especially regarding the situation in Syria, and to convene a Synod of Bishops. In many Christian churches September 14 is commemorated as the Feast of the Exaltation recalling the cross of the crucifixion as both a source of pain and instrument of salvation.
In Jerusalem many devout Jews are preparing for Rosh Hashanah (begins Sunday night) by participating in the Selichot liturgy, a series of penitential prayers seeking God’s mercy.
There will, of course, be extensive media coverage of whatever unfolds. A few less-traditional sources:
The US Embassy in Cairo Twitter Feed: http://twitter.com/USEmbassyCairo
Al Jazeera Live Blog of anti-Islam film protests: http://blogs.aljazeera.com/liveblog/topic/anti-islam-film-protests-10701
AhramOnline is an Egyptian news source majority owned by the government: http://english.ahram.org.eg/
The Guardian (U.K.) is blogging live at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/middle-east-live/2012/sep/14/friday-protests-anti-islam-us-film-live
Sarah El Sirgany is an independent journalist in Egypt who contributes to CNN, The Guardian, The Monocle and other English-language media: http://twitter.com/Ssirgany
If you have other sources — or impressions — please use the comment function to share. I will be airborne most of Friday and offline.
At about 7AM (Eastern) an AFP reporter in Sana is describing “hundreds” of protesters about 500 yards from the US embassy being confronted by Yemeni security forces firing warning shots and using water cannon.
Beginning shortly before 8AM (Eastern) several reports suggest an increasing number of confrontations between security forces and protesters in Cairo.
This morning the Egyptian President, a long-time member of the Muslim Brotherhood, appeared on television urging Egyptians to avoid violence. According to the Associated Press:
Ahead of the clashes, Islamist President Mohammed Morsi spoke for more than seven minutes on state TV, his most direct public move to contain protests since an angry crowd assaulted the embassy Tuesday night, scaling its walls and tearing down the American flag.
“It is required by our religion to protect our guests and their homes and places of work,” Morsi said. “So I call on all to consider this, consider the law, and not attack embassies, consulates, diplomatic missions or Egyptian property that is private or public.”
He denounced the killing of the American ambassador in Libya, who died in an attack Tuesday night on the U.S. Consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi along with three other Americans.
“This is something we reject and Islam rejects. To God, the attack on a person to Allah is bigger an attack on the Kaaba,” he said, referring to Islam’s holiest site in Mecca.
In recent days the Muslim Brotherhood had joined with other Islamist organizations in calling for peaceful protests regarding the film produced in the US denigrating the Prophet. The Guardian is reporting, however, that Friday morning the Muslim Brotherhood disassociated itself from the protests.
Shortly after 8AM (Eastern)/2PM (Local) AhramOnline reported:
Ahram Online reporters on the scene say that most of the fighting is now taking place in Tahrir Square as security forces try to push demonstrators away from the US embassy premises a few hundred feet away.
Mostly peaceful protests are being reported from several cities around the world. I have seen one report of “several hundred” protesters challenging police barricades in Islamabad.
Sarah El Sirgany reports from Cairo that some — mostly young protesters — are attempting an end-run around Egyptian security forces by moving along the Nile River in order to approach the US embassy from the West and South, rather than directly from Tahrir Square. Police are moving to intercept.
Shortly before 9AM (Eastern) several reports of attacks on the German and British embassies in Khartoum, Sudan. Reuters and Al Jazeera are reporting that as security forces have preserved a perimeter around the US embassy frustrated protesters have set the German embassy aflame.
That will have to be it for me. When I’m on the ground again in a few hours we should have a pretty good idea how this day transpired. At this moment I am cautiously optimistic, but more cautious than optimistic.