* Protests erupt in Baghdad and Basra
* PM condemns film, calls for no violence
By Suadad al-Salhy
BAGHDAD, Sept 13 An Iraqi militia that carried
out some of the most prominent attacks on foreigners during the
Iraq war on Thursday threatened U.S. interests in the country
over a film that has triggered protests in Libya, Egypt and
"The offence caused to the messenger (Prophet Mohammad) will
put all American interests in danger and we will not forgive
them for that," said Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Asaib al-Haq
The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other staff were
killed overnight on Tuesday in an attack on the U.S. consulate
in Benghazi over the film.
Protests against the film erupted in Baghdad on Thursday and
in the city of Basra, 420 km (260 miles) southeast of the
capital. Hundreds of followers of anti-U.S. Shi'ite cleric
Moqtada al-Sadr took to the streets calling on the Iraqi
government to close the U.S. embassy.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki denounced the film as
"insulting" and "racist" but called on Muslims not to react with
"The natural response is to refrain from resorting to
violence and demonstrate the principles of Islam and its
civilised values," he said in a statement on Thursday.
CALLS TO FIRE U.S. AMBASSADOR
In Baghdad, hundreds of protesters gathered in Sadr's
stronghold of Sadr City, holding up posters of Sadr, burning
U.S. flags and chanting, "Death to America".
"How long will we stay in this coma where there is no real
sanction?" Sheikh Riyadh al-Waeli, a Sadr aid, told protesters.
"This demonstration is not enough unless there is a real
The crowd in Basra also numbered in the hundreds and both
Sunni and Shi'ite clerics participated in the demonstration,
which was organised by Sadr's office.
"We have to fire the U.S ambassador because these things are
carried out under U.S supervision and are aimed at offending
Islam and Muslims," protester Yaarab al-Mohammadawi told
A smaller protest also took place in the city of Najaf, 160
km (100 miles) south of Baghdad.