On 14 September the German Embassy in Khartoum was stormed and parts of it were set ablaze; the situation there is now tense but quiet. The Embassy is currently closed. Further developments will determine the course of the incremental restoration of Embassy activities.
Foreign Minister Westerwelle called the storming of the Embassy “unacceptable” and urged the Sudanese Government to ensure the protection of diplomatic facilities. Violent protests against Western missions have erupted in recent days not only in the Sudan, but in multiple Muslim-majority countries. The American ambassador to Libya and three of his staff were killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya on 11 September. An anti-Muslim video which is circulating online is widely considered to have triggered the protests.
The Federal Foreign Office has now heightened its travel advisory for the Sudan, which recommends that travellers exercise special vigilance and avoid the area around the German Embassy. Foreign Minister Westerwelle has also discussed the matter on the telephone with Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti. The Sudanese Ambassador has furthermore been summoned to the Federal Foreign Office and “made unmistakeably aware of his Government’s obligation to protect diplomatic facilities”, Minister Westerwelle said in Berlin.
Indignation over hate video does not justify violence
Westerwelle had previously condemned the attacks on US facilities in several Islamic countries and appealed to the Arab world to express its criticism of the “unspeakable video” in a non-violent manner.
The Federal Foreign Minister said: “I understand the indignation which many faithful Muslims feel towards the anti-Muslim film which has been circulating, but this indignation cannot be used to justify acts of violence!” He also made clear that the majority of people in Arab countries did not support the unrest, and that generalizations should not be extrapolated from it.
Reaction of the United Nations
The United Nations Security Council has also strongly condemned the attacks on embassies and called upon the governments of the countries concerned to fulfil their obligations to protect foreign countries’ diplomatic missions. On 14 September the UN Security Council issued a statement condemning such attacks regardless of their motive or when and where they are carried out. German UN Ambassador Peter Wittig read the statement; Germany currently holds the rotating chair of the Security Council.