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Reporter regrets protests against film

Egyptian protesters throw stones towards riot police during clashes near the US embassy in Cairo on September 13, 2012. UPI/Ahmed Jomaa
Egyptian protesters throw stones towards riot police during clashes near the US embassy in Cairo on September 13, 2012. UPI/Ahmed Jomaa | License Photo

CAIRO, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- The Egyptian journalist who first reported on the anti-Islam film blamed for violent Muslim protests said he regrets the chaos and deaths his story sparked.

Gamel Girgis -- who reports on Christian emigrants for al Youm al Sabaa, the Seventh Day, a daily newspaper in Cairo -- said he initially didn't want to write about the anti-Islam film "Innocence of Muslims." He was alerted to the film's existence by Morris Sadel, a Coptic Christian in Washington, D.C., who said he produced the film, McClatchy Newspapers reported Sunday.

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"He told me he produced a movie last year and wanted to screen it on Sept. 11 to reveal what was behind the terrorists' actions that day, Islam," Girgis said.

Protests started Tuesday throughout the Mideast after news spread of the Web-based film produced in the United States that impugned the character of the Prophet Muhammad.

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U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other American officials were killed Tuesday in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

"I regret publishing the story because of the events that took place in the Islamic world but I am a journalist, and it is news," Girgis said. "If it wasn't me publishing it, it would have been someone else."

Meanwhile, Yemen's parliament issued a statement Sunday demanding the removal of U.S. Marines -- who were sent to Yemen earlier in the week to protect the U.S. diplomatic mission from protesters, CNN reported.

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Zaid al-Thair, a political adviser to Yemen's ruling General People's Congress, said the arrival of U.S. Marines in Yemen calls into question who was behind the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Yemen, which left four protesters dead.

"In the end of the day, the United States is benefiting more than all and was able to bring its forces inside Yemen," said al-Thari.

Rising tensions in Sudan and Tunisia has prompted the Obama administration to order all but emergency U.S. government personnel and family members to evacuate diplomatic missions in those countries, The Washington Post reported. Officials warned Americans not to travel to the two countries Saturday.

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