US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday condemned an amateur anti-Islam film which has sparked violent Middle East protests, stressing the US government had nothing to do with it.
“To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose, to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage,” Clinton said.
“The United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message.”
The top US diplomat also reiterated: “There is no justification, none at all, for responding to this video with violence.”
Protests have erupted for three days running outside US diplomatic missions in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and elsewhere by demonstrators who deem the low-budget movie “Innocence of Muslims” made in the United States as offensive to Islam.
US ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed when heavily-armed extremists launched a sustained four-hour attack on the US mission in the Libyan city of Benghazi late Tuesday.
Condemning the violence, Clinton said at the launch of a strategic dialogue between the United States and Morocco that all “leaders in government, leaders in civil society or religious leaders must draw the line at violence.”
“Any responsible leader should be standing up now and drawing that line,” she added.
“It is especially wrong for violence to be directed against diplomatic missions. These are places whose very purpose is peaceful to promote better understanding across countries and cultures.
“All governments have a responsibility to protect those spaces and people. Because to attack an embassy is to attack the idea that we can work together to build understanding and a better future.”
Addressing complaints that America did nothing to stop such videos and anti-Islamic messages ever seeing the light of day, Clinton upheld the US Constitution and the First Amendment guaranteeing the freedom of speech.
“Our country does have a long tradition of free expression, which is enshrined in our constitution and in our law,” she said.
“We do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views no matter how distasteful they may be.
“There are of course different views around the world about the outer limits of free speech and free expression. But there should be no debate about the simple proposition that violence in response to speech is not acceptable.”