By Peter Graff
Sept 12 Western countries denounced on Wednesday
the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other
embassy staff by armed attackers, while many Muslim states
focused their condemnation on the anti-Islamic film that
provoked the violence.
In Libya and Egypt, where the U.S. embassy was also attacked
on Tuesday, authorities promised to bring the perpetrators to
Ambassador Christopher Stevens and the other staff were
killed in an assault on the U.S. consulate and a safe house in
Benghazi by Islamist gunmen. The attackers blamed Washington for
a low-budget anti-Islam film produced in the United States,
excerpts of which could be viewed on the Internet.
Western leaders expressed unanimous shock at killings that
France's President Francois Hollande called an "odious crime".
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said: "Nothing can
justify violence". Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti praised
the Libyan government for speaking out against the violence.
Russia's Foreign Ministry said: "We decisively condemn all
attacks on foreign diplomatic representations and their
employees as manifestations of terrorism that can have no
At the United Nations, Under-secretary General for Political
Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council at a briefing:
"The United Nations rejects defamation of religion in all forms,
but there is no justification for violence such as occurred in
Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa Abu Shagour joined the
condemnation of the killings. "I do condemn the cowardly act of
attacking the U.S. consulate and the killing of Mr Stevens and
the other diplomats," he said in a message on Twitter.
The U.S. military helped Libya's government come to power as
part of a NATO bombing campaign that helped topple Muammar
Gaddafi last year.
In Egypt - where protesters scaled the U.S. embassy's walls
and tore down the American flag - the government of new
President Mohammed Mursi also condemned the violence but called
on Washington to take action against the film's makers.
"What happened at the U.S. embassy in Cairo is regrettable
and rejected by all Egyptian people and cannot be justified,
especially if we consider that the people who produced this low
film have no relation to the (U.S.) government," Prime Minister
Hisham Kandil said, reading out a statement.
"We ask the American government to take a firm position
toward this film's producers within the framework of
international charters that criminalise acts that stir strife on
the basis of race, colour or religion."
President Mursi, an Islamist from the once-banned Muslim
Brotherhood, became Egypt's first elected leader this year after
last year's overthrow of U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak. He is trying
to reassure Western countries that Egypt will remain an ally and
is seeking debt forgiveness from Washington.
The Brotherhood called for a nationwide peaceful protest on
Friday against the film, "to condemn insults to religious
convictions and insults to the Prophet". Mursi withdrew from the
Brotherhood before taking office.
MUSLIMS DENOUNCE FILM
Elsewhere in the Muslim world, the official response often
focused mainly on the anti-Muslim video, rather than on the
violence it triggered.
Several leaders, including Afghanistan's President Hamid
Karzai, who is defended by a NATO-led force of 113,000 troops
including nearly 75,000 Americans, denounced the film in
statements that made no mention of attacks on U.S. diplomats.
"Desecration is not part of the freedom of expression, but a
criminal act that has now badly affected the righteous
sentiments of 1.5 billion Muslims all over the globe," a
statement from Karzai's office said.
Afghanistan has frequently been hit by bouts of deadly
violence prompted by perceived insults against Islam.
Pakistan issued two separate statements, one that condemned
"a defamatory video clip in the U.S., maligning the revered and
pious personality of the Prophet Muhammad", and another which
condemned the killings of U.S. embassy staff. Neither statement
gave any suggestion that the incidents were linked.
Iran's foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast also
denounced the film while making no mention of the embassy
attacks. The United States has a "direct moral responsibility"
to stop insults against holy Muslim figures, Iran's Mehr news
agency quoted him as saying.
Islam generally prohibits any depiction of Mohammed, whom
Muslims revere for receiving the revelation of the Quran and as
a model of the virtuous life.
Portions of the film, which appeared to have been made with
amateurish actors on cheap sets, showed Mohammed as bisexual, a
supporter of child sexual abuse and of violence. The film was
promoted by Terry Jones, a once little-known Florida pastor who
gained international notoriety for burning the Quran despite a
plea by then U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates that the act
would put the lives of U.S. troops in danger.
The Vatican in Rome said the violence showed the need to
respect religions and avoid insulting believers.
"The serious consequences of unjustified offence and
provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers are
once again evident in these days," the Vatican's chief
spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi said in a statement.
Lombardi said respect for the beliefs, texts, outstanding
figures and symbols of religions was "an essential precondition
for the peaceful coexistence of peoples."