World reactions to US envoy death in Libya

Published Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Updated 8:06pm: US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens was killed in Benghazi late on Tuesday along with three embassy staff in a mob attack sparked by the release of a US short film reportedly insulting the Prophet Mohammad.

The protests in Libya followed similar fiery demonstrations in Egypt, with crowds scaling the US embassy wall before tearing down the US flag and setting it on fire.

The film was produced by Israeli-American Sam Bacile and promoted by US pastor Terry Jones, according to the Wall Street Journal. The film portrays the life of Prophet Mohammad, touching on themes of paedophilia and homosexuality.

Below are the world's reactions to the Libya attacks and regional fury caused by the film:

Libya

"We confirm that no one will escape from punishment and questioning," Mohammed Magarief, head of Libya's national assembly, told a news conference.

He also apologized to the United States for the attack on its consulate in Benghazi in which the diplomats were killed.

Magrief promised that all foreigners in Libya would be protected.

"Diplomatic missions, foreign companies and citizens of foreign countries in Libya are under the protection the Libyan country and security forces," he said.

United States

The United States vowed to stand by Libya on Wednesday despite an Islamist militant attack that killed the US ambassador and three colleagues on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

"I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens," US President Barack Obama said in a White House statement.

"Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice and partnership with nations and people around the globe and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives," he said.

Obama's Republican challenger in the upcoming US presidential race, Mitt Romney, sounded the only off note -- accusing the White House of "sympathizing" with Muslim protesters angered by an amateur US movie that lampoons Islam.

The Obama campaign dismissed the charge, and the president himself rose above the fray to issue a solemn statement, flanked by Clinton in the Rose Garden of the White House, denouncing the attack.

"I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe."

"While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants."

United Nations

The UN Council and Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon issued separate statements which hit out at the attack "in strongest terms." The 15-nation Security Council also condemned an attack on the US embassy in Cairo. Both have been blamed on mobs angered by an anti-Islam film.

Egyptian government:

"The film is offensive to the Prophet and immoral," the Egyptian cabinet said in a statement read by Prime Minister Hisham Qandil at a news conference.

"We call on the great people of Egypt to exercise restraint when expressing their anger," it said.

"What happened at the US 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 (US) government," Qandil added.

"We ask the American government to take a firm position toward this film's producers within the framework of international charters that criminalize acts that stir strife on the basis of race, color or religion."

Meanwhile, Egypt's President Mohammed Mursi asked the Egyptian embassy in Washington to take legal action in the United States against the filmmakers, the official state news agency said.

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood

Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood called for "peaceful protests on Friday outside all the main mosques in all of Egypt's provinces to denounce offenses to religion and to the Prophet," the Muslim Brotherhood's Secretary General Mahmud Hussein said in a statement.

The Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) strongly condemned the film which it described as "a racist crime and a failed attempt to provoke sectarian strife between the two elements of the nation: Muslims and Christians."

The film, which depicts the Prophet Mohammed as promiscuous and talking about killing children, "goes far beyond all reasonable boundaries of the freedoms of opinion and expression."

"The FJP affirms that both elements of the Egyptian people -- Christians and Muslims -- have been and will always be united in the face of such despicable attempts that seek to foment conflict in this homeland, and to throw it in a deep abyss, a never-ending spiral of violence," the party said.

Egyptian Coptic Christians

The Maspero Youth Union (MYU) and the Coalition of Coptic Egypt condemned "all sorts of contempt or disdain against any religion, as well as to the sowing of sedition between people who embrace different religions," the statement on Wednesday said.

The MYU said it would be "holding a vigil tonight (Wednesday) in front of the US embassy in Cairo to protest against the film that insults Islam and the Prophet Mohammed."

Lebanon's Hezbollah

Hezbollah said the film was an "immoral act which represents the highest degree of aggression against the highest human right ... for respect of beliefs and sanctities".

The film aimed to stir tensions and hatred between Muslims and Copts in Egypt and reflected "the true position of the American-Zionist alliance towards Islam and Muslims", it said.

"In this context, the statements of official US condemnation no longer fool anyone," Hezbollah said, referring to official US criticism of the film.

Hamas

In a statement on his Facebook page, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum condemned the film as "disgraceful, racist and an insult to the feeling of every Muslim in the world."

"We want to stop all disregard of principles and human values, to put an end to all these misguided policies, and we want respect for Muslim rights."

Syrian Muslim Brotherhood

"The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria deplores the killing of the US ambassador to Libya and emphasizes on the peaceful protest as an approach that controlled by the teachings and ethics of Islam," it said via its Twitter account.

"We deplore the abuse of our Prophet the Messenger of Allah. We reject all methods of expression beyond the sublime Sharia. We deplore the indiscriminate killing under any title from any hand."

"Abuse of the Prophet (pbuh) in that film doesn't justify the bloodshed unlawfully, we should show our anger with no excess or negligence."

Vatican

The Vatican condemned anti-Muslim "provocations" and the resulting "unacceptable violence."

"The serious consequences of unjustified offense and provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers are once again evident," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement.

"The reactions they arouse, sometimes with tragic results, which in their turn nourish tension and hatred, unleashing unacceptable violence," he said.

"Profound respect for the beliefs, texts, outstanding figures and symbols of the various religions is an essential precondition for the peaceful coexistence of peoples," he added.

Afghanistan

"The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan strongly condemns this inhuman and insulting act, and expresses its disgust for it," referring to the film, a statement from the Afghan presidency said

"Following instructions by the ministry of information and culture, the ministry of communication has ordered all service providers to block YouTube access," communications ministry official Aimal Marjan told AFP.

He said the block had been ordered "until YouTube removes this abusive film".

"It seems YouTube has removed all searches for Prophet Mohammed. We may lift the ban soon if it is confirmed that YouTube has banned access to this trailer," Marjan said.

Iran

"The Islamic republic of Iran strongly condemns insults to Islamic sanctities and sympathizes with the hurt feelings of the Islamic Umma (nation)," foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said in a statement.

"The US government's systematic and continued silence on such repulsive acts is the fundamental reason that they keep happening," state media reported him as saying.

"The American government has the responsibility to stop this dangerous trend in the spreading of insults to Islamic Umma's highest sanctities," Mehmanparast said.

Russia

"Moscow views the events in Cairo and particularly in Benghazi, which led to the tragic deaths of four American diplomats, with deep concern," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"We decisively condemn all attacks on foreign diplomatic representations and their employees as manifestations of terrorism that can have no justification," it said.

European Union

"I am deeply shocked by the despicable attack," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

"I call on Libya to take all necessary measures without delay to protect the lives of all diplomats and foreign staff" working in the country, she added.

France

"France demands that the Libyan authorities shed all possible light on these odious and unacceptable crimes, identify the culprits and bring them to justice," French President Francois Hollande said.

"We had hoped and continued to hope that it would pacify the country but obviously you can always have extremists who behave in this way. It is absolutely unacceptable and the Libyan authorities must react," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

Britain

"We condemn the violence that was displayed and we will support the authorities in getting to the bottom of who is responsible and ensuring they are brought to justice in a proper way," British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond said.

"We understand that insensitive publications give great effects and it is the responsibility of everybody to think very carefully before they publish or speak in any country where their words or images they use are likely to give offense," Hammond said.

"But there is no excuse ever for a violent response to such provocation and the perpetrators of violence must be brought to justice in a proper way," he added.

Germany

"The federal government condemns in the strongest terms the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a news conference.

"Such violence against diplomatic facilities can and may never be a means of political debate, of political action," he said.

Speaking on the deaths of the four US diplomats in Libya, Seibert said they had been "victims of this religious fanaticism which does not preserve human life."

NATO

"I welcome the Libyan president's condemnation and condolences and his pledge of his government's full cooperation," NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in a statement.

"It is important that the new Libya continues to move towards a peaceful, secure and democratic future."

Condemning the killings of the four US diplomats, the NATO chief added that "such violence can never be justified".

Italy

"We will continue to support the government of the new democratic Libya, which we are sure will spare no effort in preventing Libya's new course from being hijacked," Italian Prime Minister Monti Mario said at a press conference in Rome.

"We condemn with maximum firmness this brutal act," he said.

(Al-Akhbar, AFP, Reuters)

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