After days of protests over an anti-Islam film, American diplomatic missions in the Middle East and North Africa were braced for further violence after Friday prayers. The US put its overseas missions on high alert.
Germany has closed its embassies in a number of Muslim-majority countries in fear of attacks. "We are observing how the security situation develops with great attentiveness and we have increased security precautions at a number of foreign missions," a spokesman for the German Foreign Office told SPIEGEL ONLINE. Embassies in North Africa, Afghanistan and Pakistan are believed to be among those affected.
The spokesman said that the missions would only close on Friday, though. Other German institutions such as aid organizations have also been urged to increase security precautions, he said.
Westerwelle said he could understand the outrage that many Muslims felt about the anti-Islam film. "But this outrage cannot justify violence."
The German army in Afghanistan is also increasing its security precautions. "We are assuming that we will also feel the effects of this whole business," one German soldier told SPIEGEL ONLINE in a telephone interview. "When the people here see the film, they are sure to protest."