Protesters angry over an amateurish American-made video denouncing Islam attacked the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday, killing a State Department officer, while Egyptian demonstrators stormed over the fortified walls of the United States Embassy here, reports The New York Times.
In Cairo, several men scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy and tore down its American flag.
A U.S. State Department officer was killed in the violence in Benghazi, Libya, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement late Tuesday.
“I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today. As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack.
“This evening, I called Libyan President Magariaf to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya. President Magariaf expressed his condemnation and condolences and pledged his government’s full cooperation,” read Clinton’s statement.
The protests in both countries were sparked by outrage over a film ridiculing Muhammad produced by an American in California and being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the United States, reads the article in The Huff Post.
The director of the film, called “Innocence of Muslims,” is an Israel-American, 52-year-old Sam Bacile, who wanted to show “Islam as a cancer.” Mr Bacile claims that 100 Jewish donors funded the movie to the tune of $5 million.
In a series of disjointed scenes, the movie depicts Prophet Mohammed as a child molester, womanizer and ruthless killer.
Most of the Muslim world considers depictions of Mohammed to be blasphemous and deeply offensive.
“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” Clinton said. “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation.”
Hours before the Benghazi attack, hundreds of mostly ultraconservative Islamist protesters in Egypt marched to the U.S. Embassy in downtown Cairo. Protesters gathered outside its walls and chanting against the movie and the U.S. Most of the embassy staff had left the compound earlier because of warnings of the upcoming demonstration.
CNN writes that the Embassy officials issued a warning to Americans in Egypt, telling them to avoid the demonstrations which “may gather in front of the U.S. Embassy, or Egyptian government buildings such as the People’s Assembly and Ministry of Interior.”
“It is unclear if large numbers will take to the streets, but clashes may occur should two opposing groups come into contact with one another,” the U.S. Embassy said in a statement. “Large gatherings and non-essential travel in and around downtown and Garden City should be avoided this afternoon.”
“This is an expression of a feeling that is thought to be an insult,” said Nizih El Naggary, a spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. “But events like this are extremely deplorable. And we have to work to get things under control.”
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo announced that it had canceled visa services for Wednesday, saying in a statement that it “condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”