The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade announced Canada's embassies in Egypt, Sudan, and Libya, will be closed for at least one day in light of the ongoing violence in those countries.
The announcement was made yesterday and the three embassies will be closed Sunday. The Montreal Gazette reports the Canadian embassy in Cairo was closed on Thursday because of the violence at the nearby U.S. embassy. As the weekend in Egypt consists of Friday and Saturday, the embassy has not been open since Wednesday.
Canada's embassy in Tunisia would have also been subject to closure except the mission is normally closed on Sundays.
The reason given for the closures is the violent demonstrations in those countries that is blamed on the the reaction to the Innocence of Muslims , a 14-minute video uploaded on YouTube, that depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud and a pedophile. The closures were necessary to ensure the safety of diplomatic staff.
The London Free Press reports the decision to temporarily close the missions was made hours after the U.S. State Department announced the evacuation of all non-essential personnel and family members from the American embassy in Tunis.
CTV reports the Canadian government paid a little less than $2 million to Control Risks Group, an international security firm, to study threats to Canadian overseas missions. The company looked at embassies in 174 countries and conducted threat assessments. The threats studied were not confined to terrorism but included threats from natural disasters and general instability.
As Digital Journal reported, four days before the violence broke out in the Middle East, Canada suspended diplomatic relations with Iran. All embassy personnel left the country and Iranian diplomats were given five days to leave Canada. One of the reasons given for the closure was the danger posed to diplomatic staff in Tehran.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was quoted in the Victoria Times Colonist on Friday as saying,
"I'm obviously very concerned with what is happening in the Middle East and North Africa. As I've said before, our diplomatic personnel are not military, they are not paid to put their lives on the line.
"It's my responsibility to ensure that our people are protected. Obviously we've closed one mission that's in Iran where we thought the risks are particularly high."