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Clinton: 'No justification' for killing of U.S. envoy

9:44 AM, Sep 12, 2012   |    comments
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CAIRO -- The Muslim Brotherhood on Wednesday condemned the violence in Egypt and Libya that resulted in the death of a U.S.ambassador and three other Americans as the U.S. tightened security worldwide at embassies and Libya's president apologized for the attack.

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"It's no problem for them to protest and have their demands ... but it doesn't mean you need to (inflict) any harm on the embassy here," said Dina Zakaria, a representative of the Muslim Brotherhood.

MORE: Perceived insults to Islam trigger Muslim anger

Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, was killed Tuesday night when a mob stormed the embassy in the eastern city of Benghazi.

The violence grew in response to a film ridiculing Islam's prophet, Mohammed. The killings in Benghazi followed demonstrations in front of Cairo's U.S. Embassy, where protesters tore down the U.S. flag and scaled the embassy's wall.

MORE: Libya: U.S. ambassador, 3 other Americans killed

"The ambassador in Libya, is he the one who produced the film? Is he the one who permitted the film? Of course not," Zakaria said, referring to Stevens. "You are making a problem that will cause another problem and all of that is really against what we want. It will not secure what we want."

"Just because you are against something doesn't mean you have to kill," she said. "I think it's really a disaster."

President Obama on Wednesday ordered stepped-up security at diplomatic installations around the world.

In a White House statement, Obama condemned the violence and called Stevens a "courageous and exemplary representative of the United States."

"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," Obama said in the statement.

Obama ordered "all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday said "this was an attack by a small and savage group, not the government" or the people of Libya.

"There is no justification for this, none," she said. "Violence like this is no way to honor religions or faith, and as long as there are those who will take innocent lives in the name of God the world will never know true and everlasting peace."

Clinton said that Americans and Libyan security personnel fought alongside each other in an effort to defend the compound. She said Libyans brought Stevens' body to the hospital.

Clinton earlier called on Libyan President Mohammed e-Megarif to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya.

El-Megarif described the attack as "cowardly" and offered his condolences on the death of Stevens and the three other Americans. Speaking to reporters, he vowed to bring the culprits to justice and maintain his country's close relations with the United States. He said the three Americans were security guards. "We extend our apology to America, the American people and the whole world," el-Megarif said.

The attacks occurred Tuesday night in Benghazi by protesters angry over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad, according to Libya officials. Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed when 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 guns and rocket propelled grenades. Three other Americans were also killed.

The State Department identified one of the other Americans as Sean Smith, a foreign service information management officer. The identities of the others were being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

"I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi," Obama said in the statement. The four Americans, he said, "exemplified America's commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe."

Stevens was a career diplomat who spoke Arabic and French and had already served two tours in Libya, including running the office in Benghazi during the revolt against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. He was confirmed as ambassador to Libya by the Senate earlier this year.

His State Department biography, posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy to Libya, says he "considers himself fortunate to participate in this incredible period of change and hope for Libya."

Clinton said Stevens had a "passion for service, for diplomacy and for the Libyan people."

"This assignment was only the latest in his more than two decades of dedication to advancing closer ties with the people of the Middle East and North Africa which began as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco," Clinton said.

He "risked his own life to lend the Libyan people a helping hand to build the foundation for a new, free nation. He spent every day since helping to finish the work that he started," she said.

The attacks come nearly a year and a half after uprisings began against longtime dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, which led to weakened security networks in both countries.

The Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), condemned the film that sparked unrest in a statement Tuesday

."The party considers the film a racist crime and a failed attempt to provoke sectarian strife between the two elements of the nation: Muslims and Christians," a statement said on the FJP's English language website. "Moreover, the FJP considers this movie totally unacceptable, from the moral and religious perspectives, and finds that it excessively goes far beyond all reasonable boundaries of the freedoms of opinion and expression."

The film is certainly a blatant violation of religious sanctities, international norms and conventions on human rights which emphasize that freedom of expression with respect to religion must be restricted by controls within the law that safeguard public interest, in order to protect lives, morals, rights and freedoms," the statement said.

Sam Bacile, a 56-year-old California real estate developer who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew and who said he produced, directed and wrote the two-hour film, "Innocence of Muslims," said he had not anticipated such a furious reaction.

Speaking by phone from an undisclosed location, Bacile, who went into hiding Tuesday, remained defiant, saying Islam is a cancer and that he intended his film to be a provocative political statement condemning the religion.

The Muslim Brotherhood burgeoned in popularity and presence after Mubarak was ousted in February 2011 and President Mohammed Morsi formerly headed its political party.

"Some people in the Middle East don't understand the relationship between government and media and think the (U.S.) government controls the media like they do here," said Said Sadek, political sociologist and affiliate professor at the American University in Cairo. "They are putting the blame on the U.S. government, which has nothing to do with it."

Stevens joined the Foreign Service in 1991 and spent his early State Department career at posts in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria and Israel. After working for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff for Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, Stevens was posted to Libya as deputy chief of mission.

In that post, Stevens wrote several confidential cables back to Washington, describing Gadhafi's bizarre behavior. During the 2011 revolt against Gadhafi, he was one of the last American diplomats to stay in Tripoli and after the embassy was closed, he was appointed to head the U.S. liaison office to the Transitional National Council.

The attack on the Benghazi consulate took place as hundreds of protesters in neighboring Egypt scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and tore down and replaced the American flag with a black Islamic banner.

The attacks in Benghazi and Cairo were the first such assaults 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 authoritarian leaders, Moammar Gadhafi and Hosni Mubarak, in uprisings last year.

The protests in both countries were sparked by outrage over a film ridiculing Muhammad produced by an Israeli filmmaker living in California and 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.

Stevens, 52, was a career diplomat who spoke Arabic and French and had already served two tours in Libya, including running the office in Benghazi during the revolt against Gadhafi. He was confirmed as ambassador to Libya by the Senate earlier this year.

Before Tuesday, five U.S. ambassadors had been killed in the line of duty, the last being Adolph Dubs in Afghanistan in 1979, according to the State Department historian's office.

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