By Donna Leinwand Leger, USA TODAY
Hours after learning of Ambassador Chris Stevens' death, the Libyan Youth Movement transformed its Facebook page into a tribute to the slain diplomat. It changed its cover photo from "Free Libya" graffiti sprayed on a Tripoli wall to a somber photo of Stevens with the tag "RIP Christopher Stevens1960-2012."
"As North America wakes up, dread washes over me. What a rough night. I'm sorry for the horrible day the world is about to face," the administrator of the Shabab Libya page wrote. "We are sorry."
As anti-American protests swept across North Africa and the Persian Gulf, a counter-protest of apology emerged. Photos of Libyans carrying hand-lettered signs condemning the violence and expressing contrition for their countrymen appeared on Facebook. "Sorry" became the trending mantra of Libyans on Twitter.
At one counter-protest, an unidentified man carried a crude sign phonetically written in English with blue marker on lined notebook paper, "Sorry People of America this not the Pehavior of our ISLAM and Profit."
Another sign in red, white and blue read: "Chris Stevens wasa friend to all Libyans."
On Facebook, one group formed The Sorry Project, designed to collect thousands of personal, written apologies from Libyans. Its profile photo is a man holding a sign, "USA. We are sorry. We are sad."
"We Are Sorry," the group wrote on the page created Sept. 11. "We would like show that as Libyans we do not support on the actions committed by these criminals. USA, we are sorry and we will say it one thousand times over. Our apologies will never be enough, but the Libyan people will always be grateful for you since you were the first to stand by us in our fight for freedom and hopefully you will continue supporting us."
One commenter, Hajer Sharief, vowed to avenge Stevens' death by rebuilding a "new civilized democratic Libya."
"We promise, we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail," Sharief wrote. "This is the way real Libyans will pay you back Mr. Ambassador Chris Stevens."
At the ceremony Friday outside Washington to repatriate the remains of the four American victims, President Obama acknowledged Libya's internal conflict.
"I know that this awful loss, the terrible images of recent days, the pictures we're seeing again today, have caused some to question this work. And there is no doubt these are difficult days. In moments such as this -- so much anger and violence -- even the most hopeful among us must wonder," Obama said. "But amid all of the images of this week, I also think of the Libyans who took to the streets with homemade signs expressing their gratitude to an American who believed in what we could achieve together. I think of the man in Benghazi with his sign in English, a message he wanted all of us to hear that said, â??Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans.' "