News / Middle East

US Official Killed in Protest in Libya

US Consulate in Benghazi in flames during protest September 11, 2012US Consulate in Benghazi in flames during protest September 11, 2012
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US Consulate in Benghazi in flames during protest September 11, 2012
US Consulate in Benghazi in flames during protest September 11, 2012
VOA News
Demonstrators angered over an amateur American-made film that mocks and insults Islam's Prophet Muhammad shot at and set fire to the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi Tuesday, killing a State Department officer.

In Egypt, protesters scaled the fortified walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, tore up an American flag and replaced it with an Islamic banner. The demonstrators there - mainly ultraconservative Islamists - continued their protest action through the early hours of Wednesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed that a U.S. official was killed in the Benghazi attack, which she condemned "in the strongest terms."

"The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others," Clinton said Tuesday night.

"But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind," she said in reference to the attacks.

Provocative film

The mobs were sparked by outrage over the film that U.S. media said was produced by Israeli-American Sam Bacile and financed by expatriate members of Egypt's Coptic Christian minority group. Coptic leaders from around the world denounced the film.

Clips from the movie in English and Arabic recently posted on YouTube show the Prophet Muhammad as a child of undetermined parentage and portray him as a buffoon who advocates child abuse and extramarital sex, among other overtly insulting claims.

The Associated Press reported that Bacile - a real estate developer in California - went into hiding Tuesday. He described Islam as a "cancer," and said he intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion.

The video gained international attention with its promotion by controversial Florida-based Christian Pastor Terry Jones, who said Tuesday the film was not designed to attack Muslims but to show the "destructive ideology of Islam."

Jones triggered deadly riots in Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011 by threatening to set fire to copies of the Quran and then burning one in his church.

Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper reported that a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, the main Egyptian Islamist group, urged the U.S. government to prosecute the "madmen" behind the video.

Also Tuesday, Egypt's prestigious Al-Azhar mosque condemned a symbolic "trial" of the Prophet Muhammad organized by a U.S. group, including Jones.

Twin protests

At least 2,000 unarmed demonstrators had gathered Tuesday outside the embassy in the Egyptian capital, including Salafist Muslims and soccer fans who were involved in the political protests that brought down the former government.

By nightfall, a group of protesters had breached the wall, destroying the U.S. flag and replacing it with an Islamic banner. An embassy official told VOA no guns were drawn and no shots were fired during the incident. He said all the employees on the compound were safe.

In Benghazi, several dozen gunmen from the Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia attacked the U.S. consulate there with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, then set it on fire.

The twin assaults were the first on U.S. diplomatic facilities in either country, at a time when both Libya and Egypt are struggling to overcome the turmoil following the ouster of their longtime leaders, Moammar Gadhafi and Hosni Mubarak in uprisings last year.

It is not clear if the two incidents were coordinated.

Benghazi, a stronghold of Islamist extremists and cradle of the revolution that saw strongman Gadhafi captured and killed last year, has seen a wave of violence in recent months, including attacks on Western targets, bombings of military buildings and the killings of army and security officers.

The protests coincide with the 11th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters

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Comments
     
by: JaiDev from: New Delhi, India
September 12, 2012 12:26 PM
As you sow so you reap!!! The USA supports insurgency for petty political gains. This heedless support only strengthens the violent elements in the society. Their creation of Taliban on Pakistan soil to fight against Afghanistan rulers has created such a social order in Pakistan that is causing suffering to the whole world. Today, the USA army is fighting the same Taliban that they created. Was that not short-sighted? What have the Iraq invasion given to Iraqis? the USA says a rule without Saddam. Used Media to manipulate minds of people to justify the invasion. Muslims who believe in social order that is quite extreme in some ways. and having come from the fighting tribes of Middle East, killing someone is no big deal. So they have to be handled differently rather than handing guns to over them.

by: Deji Daramola from: Cape Town
September 12, 2012 6:35 AM
The USA must take some leadership over the protection of Christians especially after religious provocations. While i condemn unnecessary provocations by Pastor Jones and the likes (Christianity is a non provocative religion) i cannot comprehend why someone in Bengazi should be killed. I hope something drastic is done to put an end to this barbaric acts, it is indeed very sad. No one is safe!

by: AJ from: Afghanistan
September 12, 2012 3:55 AM
Why US government allow Pastor Terry Jones to do what ever that he want agents Islam and create more Muslim hate agents US?
If burning the Quran and disrespect Islam is sign of free speech so perhaps burning US flag, and propaganda agents US people so is same sign of free speech.
we should not allow Taliban, Jones and some others create hate and more issues, we already have enough issue to dealing with.
What Taliban and Jones do is the incitement the Muslim and Christen agents each other.
AJ Afghanistan

by: afterthought5 from: India
September 12, 2012 3:06 AM
I only saw a clipping on youtube. The film is a welcome move. US and the world is cowering in front of Muslims with Jihadi mindset. There must be more movies to satirize Islam. It is an inevitable process for Muslims to realize the horror their religion has inflicted on this world for 1400 years.The riots expose the fact that it is the the illiterate who lead that community everywhere.

by: Philip Smeeton
September 12, 2012 3:05 AM
Tell the truth about Islam and you will send the Muslims into a foaming rage. Muslims have swallowed the lies of Mohammed because it suits their choice of culture. Islam is a violent cult that incites to hate and yet the anti-Islamists are the only ones in the West it seems that have bothered to read Mohammeds hateful commands.

by: Niru from: Bristol, UK
September 12, 2012 2:29 AM
Why do christians have to concern themselves with other religions? Isnt there enough challenge in living up to the ideals in their own? Isnt there something about the mote in your brother's eye somewhere in their significant book?

by: Rocky from: Los Angeles
September 12, 2012 2:18 AM
In Cairo they're blowing off steam, not much going on for them, fine I'll take a broken building and insults if nobody dies, but in Benghazi????!!!?? We saved their asses in Benghazi at great risk & cost to our military. We should all reflect thoughtfully on the loved ones of that State Dept staffer who was killed.

by: Ahmed Shah from: Germany
September 12, 2012 1:25 AM
Arabs are disgrace - Iran is very good people

by: Lewis Lauren from: China
September 11, 2012 11:31 PM
Well, we Chinese have always been accused of non-religious people. But look what the religion brings to human being. Of course, this is just a tiny tip of the iceberg of the countless religious conflicts or may I say, wars in the human history. I am not saying it's wrong to have religious faith but do we have to choose religion over human life?

by: ali baba from: new york
September 11, 2012 10:14 PM
the poltical environment in middle east is like a mine field .it can be exploded any time. American policy maker choose to support unstable regime .They support muslim brotherhood aganist mubark .they support another muslim brotherhood in Libya. the hatered to west has exploded to attack the embassy in Egypt And Libya.it is just the beginning and worst will come soon

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