Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil has revealed that “a number” of the thousands involved in protests near the U.S. Embassy in Cairo were getting paid to participate.
Kandil made this remark on the state-run Middle East News Agency, although he pointed out that not all protestors were illegitimate. It is not known who paid the protesters or if the Egyptian government has identified any suspects.
The protests near the U.S. Embassy and Tahrir Square began Tuesday, and Egyptian authorities did not stop protesters from scaling the embassy fence and raising a black jihadi flag. A few protesters were later arrested.
Protesters were forced back by riot police on Saturday. CNN reported that, “this action gave crews the opportunity, finally, to clear debris-strewn streets, local businesses to assess damages and traffic to begin crawling back to normal.”
The trailer for the film “Innocence of Muslim” — allegedly the catalyst for the violent demonstrations — was shown on Egyptian media just days before the protests began on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorists attacks. American Muslim activist Dr. Zuhdi Jasser declared the Egyptian airing of the little-known movie “deliberate” and characterized the film as a “complete distraction” from the real issues at work behind the attacks. (RELATED: Zuhdi Jasser: America in ‘Cold War 2.0 with an Islamic flavor’)
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi originally denounced the anti-Islam film. By Thursday, he redirected criticism at the violence.