Cairo: US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff were killed as protesters, angry over an offensive US film that mocks the holy Prophet of Islam, attacked the American consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.
Ambassador Chris Stevens, 52, died as he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff as the building came under attack by a mob firing machine-guns and rocket-propelled grenades. He was the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since 1979.
President Barack Obama ordered increased security to protect U.S. diplomatic personnel around world.
“I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi,” Obama said, adding the four Americans “exemplified America’s commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe.”
The attack in Libya came hours after Egyptian protesters climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, pulling down the American flag and temporarily replacing it with a black Islamic banner.
The brazen assaults the first on U.S. diplomatic facilities in either country underscored the lawlessness that has taken hold in both Egypt and Libya after revolutions ousted their autocratic secular regimes and upended the tightly controlled police state in both countries. Islamists long repressed under the previous regimes have emerged as a powerful force but new governments in both nations are struggling to achieve stability.
The uproar over the film also poses a new test for Egypt’s new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, who has yet to condemn the riot outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo or say anything about the offending film. The protest was by mostly ultraconservative Salafis.
The film was produced by a California filmmaker who identifies himself as an Israeli- American. The film was being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the United States. Excerpts from the film dubbed into Arabic were posted on YouTube.
A 14-minute trailer of the movie that sparked the protests, posted on the website YouTube in an original English version and another dubbed into Egyptian Arabic, is derogatory and lowers the esteem of noble Prophet of Islam (Pbuh).
The website’s guidelines call for removing videos that include a threat of violence, but not those that only express opinions. YouTube’s practice is not to comment on specific videos.
Insults to Islam Trigger Muslim Anger
Muslim anger over rising number of insults to Islam by extremists in the West has exploded several times in recent years.
Here are some of the most serious incidents:
The September 2005 publication by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten of offensive cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) unleashed a wave of violent protests by Muslims. Dozens of people were killed in weeks of protests that included violent attacks against Danish missions in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Lebanon. The Danish government described the Muslim backlash as the country’s worst international crisis since World War II.
British author Salman Rushdie’s 1988 novel, “Satanic Verses,” that won kudos from critics in Britain but prompted outrage among Muslims, who considered it slanderous. Deadly riots against the book erupted in Islamabad, and Mumbai and the book was banned in many countries. Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a religious edict in 1989 calling for Rushdie’s death, leading the writer to live in hiding for a decades. Although Rushdie was never physically harmed, his Japanese translator was stabbed to death in 1991 and his Italian translator was injured in a stabbing that same year
VAN GOGH ASSASSINATION
Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, an outspoken critic of Islam whose film “Submission” criticized the treatment of Muslim women, was shot dead in November 2004 as he bicycled in the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam. A 26-year-old Dutch citizen of Moroccan origin, Mohammed Bouyeri, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Van Gogh’s assassination set off a wave of more than 170 small reprisal attacks against mosques and churches over the following weeks, according to a report by the Anne Frank Foundation and the University of Leiden.
“BURN A QURAN DAY”
In 2010 a US preacher Terry Jones burned holy Qurans on the ninth anniversary of 9/11 triggering worldwide protests . 18 people were killed in a single day of protests in Kashmir valley. In Afghanistan, hundreds of protesters stormed a U.N. compound in Mazar-i-Sharif killing seven foreigners, including four Nepalese guards.
MORE QURAN BURNING
In February, U.S. soldiers at Bagram prison in Afghanistan burned 315 copies of the Qurans and other religious materials that had been taken from Bagram’s facility library for disposal. Word of the burning, which the U.S. said was unintentional, triggered scores of anti-American protests across the country which left more than 30 Afghans and six U.S. soldiers dead.
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