Australian PM condemns anti-Islam film violence

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Sunday condemned as "repulsive" a film mocking Islam that has triggered global protests but said the violent demonstrations seen in Sydney were inexcusable.

Six police officers and a number of protesters were injured after a snap demonstration against the film involving several hundred people turned violent in central Sydney on Saturday.

Police fired pepper spray to contain a group trying to gain entry to the US consulate in Sydney and two demonstrators were bitten by police dogs during the ensuing fracas.

Police said six people had been charged over the demonstration, which was among several to be held worldwide in response to the amateur film ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed that was produced in the United States.

Gillard described the video as "truly repulsive" and said Australia valued freedom of and respect for all religions.

"But the making of that video does not justify violent conduct, and I absolutely condemn the violence that we have seen on Sydney streets," she said.

The scenes evoked uncomfortable memories of alcohol-fuelled race riots on the city's Cronulla beach in December 2005 linked to tensions with the Islamic community, and police urged calm.

"This is not an enormous event, this is a protest that turned violent, nothing more," police commissioner Andrew Scipione told reporters.

"Of the 300 or 400 or so that were there protesting overall there was but a relative few who caused most of the trouble.

Gillard added her voice to the calls for peace.

"I do note that senior Islamic leaders have condemned this violence in as strong terms as I have, and Australians should recognise that," she said.

In cities across the Muslim world protesters have vented their fury at the US-made film "Innocence of Muslims", targeting symbols of US influence ranging from embassies and schools to fast food chains.

The worst violence linked to the anti-Islam film saw the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans killed late Tuesday by suspected Islamic militants who fired rocket-propelled grenades at the US consulate in Benghazi.

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