From the L.A. Daily News
Muslim, Coptic Christian leaders speak out against violence
by Christina Villacorte
Muslim and Coptic Orthodox Church leaders stood together Monday to condemn anti-American violence that has broken out in several countries following the release of an anti-Muslim film allegedly made in Southern California. | See photo gallery.
In a news conference at Los Angeles City Hall, they also said the creators of the "Innocence of Muslims" need not fear retribution from them. The movie, a trailer of which was posted on YouTube, is considered blasphemous by Muslims because it mocks the Prophet Muhammad.
Dr. Maher Hathout, senior adviser of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Southern California, called the movie "hate speech" and "instigation," but added, "We don't go after people for what they say."
"If he's hiding from us, he's wrong," Hathout added, referring to Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, an Egyptian Coptic Christian and naturalized U.S. citizen living in Cerritos purported to be one of the makers of the film.
"Hide from somebody else. We are not interested," Hathout said.
The movie has been linked to protests that resulted in the death of the U.S. Ambassador in Libya, Chris Stevens, and three other State Department employees.
Hathout condemned those behind the violence.
"Those are neither Muslims nor Copts - those are people who are psychologically diseased, with hearts full of hate and minds full of ignorance," he said.
"There should have been no bloodshed," he added. "As a matter of fact, there should have been no reaction to such an insignificant production."
Bishop Serapion, the spiritual leader of the Coptic Orthodox church in Los Angeles, said neither should the movie trigger violence against Copts.
"We find there is no justification to do such kind of movie, and there is no justification to retaliate or attack the Coptic community," he said during the news conference.
In a statement, he said, "The actions of a few ignorant individuals do not represent the collective Diaspora Copts, nor do they represent the collective Muslim community."
Both religious leaders said they hope recent events will draw the Muslim and Coptic communities of Los Angeles closer.
Cries for more anti-Muslim film protests bring out Hezbollah leader
by The Associated Press
BEIRUT - In an appeal that could stoke more fury over an anti-Islam film, the leader of the Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah called for sustained protests in a rare public appearance Monday at a rapturous but peaceful rally attended by hundreds of thousands of cheering supporters in Beirut.
Rioting demonstrators battled with police outside a U.S. military base in Afghanistan and the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia as violent protests spread to Asia after a week of unrest in Muslim countries worldwide.
The turmoil surrounding the low-budget movie that denigrates the Prophet Muhammad shows no sign of ebbing nearly a week after protesters first swarmed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, and the U.S. ambassador was killed in Libya. At least 10 protesters have died in the riots, and the targeting of American missions has forced Washington to ramp up security in several countries.
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah group, has rarely been seen in public since his Shiite Muslim group battled Israel in a month-long war in 2006, fearing Israeli assassination. Since then, he has communicated with his followers and gives news conference mostly via satellite link.
On Monday, he spoke for about 15 minutes before a huge crowd of hundreds of thousands of cheering supporters, many of them with green and yellow headbands around their foreheads - the colors of Hezbollah - and the words "at your service God's prophet" written on them.
Police officials estimated the crowd at around 500,000 - an exceptionally large turnout even by standards of the Hezbollah group whose rallies normally draw huge numbers.
Nasrallah, who last appeared in public in December 2011 to mark the Shiite holy day of Ashoura, said the U.S. must ban the movie and have it removed from the Internet and called for his followers to maintain pressure on the world to act.
"This is the start of a serious campaign that must continue all over the Muslim world in defense of the prophet of God," he said to roars of support. "As long as there's blood in us, we will not remain silent over insults against our prophet."
He called for a series of demonstrations this week to denounce the video but unlike protests elsewhere, Monday's protest south of Beirut was peaceful.
Diplomats at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut have started to destroy classified material as a security precaution and sent local Lebanese employees home early amid the anti-American protests.
In Washington, a State Department official said there was no imminent threat to the heavily fortified Beirut embassy, which is about an hour away from where the nearest demonstration is planned. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss security procedures, said the decision to "reduce classified holdings" was routine and made by embassy staff.
Hezbollah's rallies seem aimed at keeping the issue alive by bringing out large crowds. But the group also appeared to be trying to ensure it did not spiral into violence, walking a careful line. Notably, Hezbollah held Monday's protest in its own mainly Shiite stronghold of Dahieh in south Beirut, far from the U.S. Embassy in the mountains north of the capital or other international diplomatic missions.
For the group, anger over the low-budget movie that denigrates the Prophet Muhammad provides a welcome diversion from the crisis in Syria, which has brought heavy criticism on Hezbollah for its support of President Bashar Assad. But stoking riots in Beirut could also bring a backlash in the tensely divided country.
"Some people still don't know the level of insult done to our prophet," Nasrallah said. "The world should understand the truth of our relationship and ties to our prophet."
"America, you are the Great Satan," the crowd shouted.
The movie portrays Islam's Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester. Protesters have directed their anger at the U.S. government, insisting it should do something to stop it, though the film was privately produced. American officials have criticized it for intentionally offending Muslims - and in one case, acted to prevent it being shown at a Florida church.
Protests against the movie were largely peaceful in the Middle East but turned violent for the first time in Afghanistan on Monday as hundreds of people burned cars and threw rocks at a U.S. military base in the capital, Kabul. Many in the crowd shouted "Death to America!" and "Death to those people who have made a film and insulted our prophet."
Afghan religious leaders urged calm. "Our responsibility is to show a peaceful reaction, to hold peaceful protests. Do not harm people, their property or public property," said Karimullah Saqib, a cleric in Kabul.
On the main throroughfare through the city, demonstrators burned tires, shipping containers and at least one police vehicle before they were dispersed. Elsewhere in the city, police shot in the air to hold back a crowd of about 800 protesters and prevent them from pushing toward government buildings downtown, said Azizullah, a police officer at the site who, like many Afghans, only goes by one name.
More than 20 police officers were slightly injured, most by rocks, said Gen. Fahim Qaim, the commander of a city quick-reaction police force.
The rallies will continue "until the people who made the film go to trial," said one protester, Wahidullah Hotak, among several dozen people demonstrating in front of a Kabul mosque, demanding President Barack Obama bring those who have insulted the prophet to justice.
Several hundred demonstrators in Pakistan's northwest also clashed with police Monday after setting fire to a press club and a government building, said police official Mukhtar Ahmed. The protesters apparently attacked the press club in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province's Upper Dir district because they were angry their rally wasn't getting more coverage, he said.
Police charged the crowd in the town of Wari, beating protesters back with batons, Ahmad said. The demonstrators then attacked the office of a senior government official and surrounded a local police station, said Ahmad, who locked himself inside with several other officers.
One protester died when police and demonstrators exchanged fire, and several others were wounded, police official Akhtar Hayat said.
Elsewhere in Pakistan, hundreds of protesters clashed with police for a second day in the southern city of Karachi as they tried to reach the U.S. Consulate. Police lobbed tear gas and fired in the air to disperse the protesters, who were from the student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami party. Police arrested 40 students, but no injuries have been reported, said senior police officer Asif Ejaz Shaikh.
Pakistanis have also held many peaceful protests against the film, including one in the southwest town of Chaman on Monday attended by around 3,000 students and teachers.
In Jakarta, hundreds of Indonesians clashed with police outside the U.S. Embassy, hurling rocks and firebombs and setting tires alight, marking the first violence over the film seen in the world's most populous Muslim country.
At least 10 police were rushed to the hospital after being pelted with rocks and attacked with bamboo sticks, said Jakarta Police Chief Maj. Gen. Untung Rajad. He said four protesters were arrested and one was hospitalized.
Demonstrators burned a picture of Obama and also tried to ignite a fire truck parked outside the embassy after ripping a water hose off the vehicle and torching it, sending plumes of black smoke billowing into the sky. Police used a bullhorn to appeal for calm and deployed water cannons and tear gas to try to disperse the crowd as the protesters shouted "Allah Akbar," or God is great.
"We will destroy America like this flag!" a protester screamed while burning a U.S. flag. "We will chase away the American ambassador from the country!"
Demonstrations were also held Monday in the Indonesian cities of Medan and Bandung. Over the weekend in the central Java town of Solo, protesters stormed KFC and McDonald's restaurants, forcing customers to leave and management to close the stores.
German authorities are considering whether to ban the public screening of the film, titled "Innocence of Muslims" because it could endanger public security, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday. A fringe far-right political party says it plans to show the film in Berlin in November.
Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on the West to block the film Monday to prove they are not "accomplices" in a "big crime," according to Iranian state TV.
Such an appeal falls into the major cultural divides over the film. U.S. officials say they cannot limit free speech and Google Inc. refuses to do a blanket ban on the YouTube video clip. This leaves individual countries putting up their own blocks.
From Google News
Thousands of LSU student return to dorms after bomb threat (+video)
Louisiana State University's entire campus was evacuated after a bomb threat was called in Monday morning. By evening students were able to return to their dorms after bomb-sniffer dogs had swept the area.
by Sheila V. Kumar
Baton Rouge, La.
The thousands of students who live on the Louisiana State University campus will be able to return to their dormitories after bomb-sniffing dogs and police methodically swept residential halls Monday following a threat that sparked a campus-wide evacuation.
LSU spokesman Herb Vincent said officials hope to reopen the Baton Rouge campus by Monday night, but they aren't certain if a building-by-building sweep will be complete before Tuesday.
"Residential Life buildings have now been deemed ready to return to normal operations. That notification is going out now to the campus community," Vincent said.
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Evangeline Hall, a residential building on campus, was reopened first and officials began siphoning some of the 6,000 on-campus residents into the building as the investigation continued, Vincent said. He said residential halls were searched first and buses to and from the campus have been running normally.
Thousands of students, professors and workers were told to leave campus after a threat was phoned into 911 about 10:32 a.m., university spokeswoman Kristine Calongne said. But the threat did not indicate a specific part of campus, so police and bomb-sniffing dogs have been meticulously sweeping each of the 250 buildings on campus.
LSU Police Capt. Corey Lalonde said no explosives have been found thus far.
By mid-afternoon, the LSU campus was largely deserted and roads were closed, though some people and cars were still moving around. Police officers with dogs combed through buildings, including the computer services center.
State police bomb technicians were on the scene, said Louisiana State Police Capt. Doug Cain. He said authorities were talking to their counterparts in Texas, North Dakota and Ohio, where similar threats were received Friday, but officials say they're not sure if the phone call made Monday was connected to those threats. Police found no explosives on those campuses.
"It's kind of been an epidemic. This has been the fourth in a week. But it's better to be safe than sorry," said Joseph Vera, a communications disorders graduate student.
Vera and a fellow graduate student were working in a language clinic with seven children near the edge of campus when they received the text message about the bomb threat. The pair walked the children across the street to an off-campus restaurant and they called the children's parents.
The university sent a follow-up message to students at 1:36 p.m. telling them not to return.
Col. Mike Edmonson, Louisiana State Police superintendent, said despite some initial traffic congestion, the campus was evacuated in under an hour.
"Our goal is for the campus life and community at LSU to return to normal, that's our goal here," he said.
The university put out a statement on its website announcing the evacuation an hour after the phone call was received, then distributed the information through text messages, emails and social media.
"A bomb threat has been reported on the LSU campus," the statement said. "Please evacuate as calmly and quickly as possible."
There are 30,000 students, professors and university employees located on the Baton Rouge campus, but it was not clear how many were there at the time of the threat.
"Monday ... is a very big class day, so I think the majority of that group was probably on campus at the time," Calongne said.
Catherine Lacoste, an 18-year-old freshman and architecture major, said she received notification by text message while working in a studio on a project. She double-checked the information and then evacuated.
"I'm going to go home, take a nap and hopefully campus will be open again when I wake up," Lacoste said.
Kayla Johnson, 18, an English major, heard about the evacuation from a student who received the text message.
"I was in the middle of class and one of the guys in the back of the room raised his hand and said, 'The reason it's so loud outside is because there's been a bomb threat and we have to leave,'" Johnson said.
Students largely seemed to take the evacuation in stride.
"Nobody seems too worried about it," said Shelby Miller, 18, a biology major who was doing homework and eating Chinese food at the student union when she got word of the evacuation.
Miller headed to a nearby coffee shop right off campus to finish her homework.
Calongne said she doesn't know of any other time the entire flagship university campus was evacuated.
"I've been at LSU since 1990 — if you count my student years — and I don't ever recall us having an evacuation of the whole campus," she said.
Al-Qaeda threatens attacks on US diplomats
CAIRO (AP) -- Al-Qaeda's branch in North Africa on Tuesday called for attacks on U.S. diplomats and an escalation of protests against an anti-Islam video that was produced in the United States and triggered a wave of demonstrations in the Middle East and beyond. While demonstrations have tapered off in nations including Egypt and Tunisia, protests against the film turned violent in Pakistan and Indian-controlled Kashmir and hundreds of people rallied in Indonesia and Thailand.
In Kabul, the Afghan capital, a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a mini-bus carrying South African aviation workers to the airport, killing at least 12 people in an attack that a militant group said was revenge for the film Innocence of Muslims , which was made by an Egyptian-born American citizen.
U.S. officials describe the video as offensive, but the American government's protection of free speech rights has clashed with the anger of Muslims abroad who are furious over the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womanizer and pedophile.
In a statement, Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb praised the killing of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11. The group threatened attacks in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Mauritania, and condemned the United States for "lying to Muslims for more than 10 years, saying its war was against terrorism and not Islam."
The group urged Muslims to pull down and burn American flags at embassies, and kill or expel American diplomats to "purge our land of their filth in revenge for the honor of the Prophet."
Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula recently issued a similar call for attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities. It is al-Qaida's most active branch in the Middle East.
An Islamist militant group, Hizb-i-Islami, claimed responsibility for the attack in Kabul. The group is headed by 65-year-old former warlord Gubuddin Hekmatyar, a former Afghan prime minister and one-time U.S. ally who is now listed as a terrorist by Washington. The militia has thousands of fighters and followers across the country's north and east.
In Pakistan, hundreds of angry protesters broke through a barricade outside the U.S. Consulate in the northwest city of Peshawar, sparking clashes with police that left several wounded on both sides, said police officer Arif Khan. The demonstrators threw bricks and flaming wads of cloth at the police, who pushed them back by firing tear gas and rubber bullets and charging with batons. The protest was organized by the youth wing of the hardline Jamaat-e-Islami party.
In Kashmir's main city of Srinagar, a strike shut down businesses and public transportation as marchers burned U.S. flags and an effigy of President Barack Obama. When the protesters tried to march into the main business district, police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse them, a police officer said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters. Protesters hurled rocks at the troops, he said. There were no immediate reports of injuries.
An alliance of Kashmiri religious groups called the strike in response to the anti-Islam film. The shutdown was supported by the bar association, trade unions and separatist groups in the volatile region, where strikes are a common tactic to protest against Indian rule.
In Indonesia, about 200 people from various Islamic groups torched an American flag and tires outside the U.S. Consulate in the third largest city of Medan. Some unfurled banners saying, "Go to hell America," while others trampled on dozens of paper flags. Also Tuesday, about 100 Muslim students in Makassar, a city in central Indonesia, called for the death penalty against the filmmaker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.
Some 400 people protested peacefully outside the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand's capital. Protesters carried signs and banners saying, "We love Prophet Muhammad" and "Stop insulting our religion," and chanted, "Down with America" and "Down with Israel."
The government in Bangladesh blocked YouTube on Monday to prevent people from seeing the video. Mir Mohammaed Morshed, a spokesman for the state-run Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Ltd., said the decision will remain effective until further notice.
Google has blocked access to the video in Libya and Egypt following violence there, and in Indonesia and India because it says the video broke laws in those countries.
OSHP community policing program teaches citizens to spot illegal activity
by Briona Arradondo
COUNTY, Ohio —
For the first time, the Ohio State Highway Patrol is recruiting the public for a new community policing program.
The new Community Shield Program will train citizens to better spot illegal activity.
Starting in October, troopers will teach residents the signs of human and drug trafficking, impaired drivers and homeland security problems.
On Monday at the Wintersville OSHP post, troopers explained the program.
"We have an increased amount of criminal activity that occurs on our roadways. We're focusing a lot on our criminal control program, including the increased attention that human trafficking is getting," said OSHP Lt. C.L. Johnson.
Valeria Daniels, of East Liverpool, said she thinks it's a good program.
"The people are out on the road all the time. I think they see more cars than the troopers can. I think it's a good idea that they can call in and alert the troopers when they think there's somebody drunk," Daniels said.
Troopers said they want everyone to register by Oct. 1. A course on Oct. 10 will only be a couple of hours, but they said the program has already had some success on the road.
"We've already done this with trucking companies, with truckers being out on the road 24/7," Johnson said.
But, it's the first time the OSHP will expand its resources and eyes on the road to this extent for crimes.
"We can look for obvious criminal indicators and take action based on that. And with the ability of the general public to be able to be a little bit more aware of what to look for, they can then call our dispatch centers and we can dispatch troopers to that area," Johnson said.
Troopers said to call during business hours to register for training. While out on the roads, people can still dial #677 to report activity.