The US ambassador to Libya and three other staff have been killed in the eastern city of Benghazi in an attack over an anti-Islam film made in the US, Libyan sources say.
Christopher Stevens died on Tuesday from smoke inhalation, after a group of demonstrators attacked and set fire to the consulate building to express their anger over the film that insults Islam’s Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Libyan interior ministry said.
Another consulate staff was also killed during the attack as well.
Abdel-Monem al-Hurr, a spokesman for Libya's Supreme Security Committee, said that there were fierce clashes between gunmen and security forces, and Rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the US consulate.
The incident in Benghazi came after a massive demonstration held earlier in the day in neighboring Egypt to condemn the insulting movie.
Thousands of Egyptians gathered in front of the US Embassy in Cairo, scaled the walls of the embassy, pulled down the US flag, and called for the expulsion of the US ambassador to Cairo.
Press TV has talked with Muhammad al-Asi, Imam of Washington’s Islamic Center to further discuss the issue at hand.
What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.
I want to ask you Imam, about the fact that in the past year or so has been quite a testing period for relations between the United States and the Muslim World.
How do you see the legacy, the lasting impact that is, of this latest incident?
Well, what has happened in Cairo, Egypt and in Benghazi in Libya tells us that there is a very serious structural failure in the US foreign policy. The US has managed throughout all of these years to incur the disappointment and the wrath of, practically, all of the Muslims in the world due to its sustained policies of; number one: unqualified support for the Israeli occupation [of Palestine] and number two: for continuing American direct occupation of courtiers such as Afghanistan and Iraq and number three: a developing warfare that uses drones that target Muslims in different parts of the Muslim World in Asia and in Africa.
And on top of all of that right now, we have what you may call ‘periodical inflammation’ in the Muslim lands, resulting from these types of offensive, intrusive and brutal American policies throughout Africa and Asia; when we right now have a production and a presentation of a very offensive cinematic work presented to the public under the rubric of the Freedom that is offered in the United States; I may add a freedom that is available to anti [Islam] and antagonistic elements, whether they belong to the Jewish faith or whether they belong to the Christian faith meeting up together in the production of this film that more or less, to put it just in a few words, it demonizes Islam, it defames the prophet and it dehumanizes the Muslims.
Obviously Muslims will take umbrage to this and there is quite a bit of emotionalism in different pockets of Muslims around the world to erupt and present themselves as they did in these two places [Libya and Egypt] yesterday in Benghazi at the American consulate and in front of the American embassy in Cairo, Egypt both yesterday and today.
And there is a subliminal feeling, I think, right now that there may be copycat developments along these lines in other capitals in the Muslim World and I think that for that reason the United States has beefed up its security presence sending in marines to Benghazi and probably marines to other American diplomatic posts in sensitive areas in the Muslim World and all of these, as I said at the beginning, is [are] an indication of the structural failure of the American foreign policy due to the reasons that I referred to.
Well, Imam Asi you mentioned the protests and we have, of course, that protests in previous events when for example the Qur’an was burned in Afghanistan or corpse were urinated upon in Afghanistan as well.
Do you believe that protests are enough at this point or does the Muslim World need to do something more tangible?
Well, you see Muslims right now, generally speaking, are in a formative stage, in these two countries in particular, in Libya and in Egypt.
Some officials who have Islamic backgrounds and who have Islamic characters are trying to put together a type of Islamic orientation to their countries and these types of developments happening within these types of circumstances it makes a person wonder who is behind these types of events?
We do not have, as far as a judicial process is concerned, we do not have what may be called the names of individuals or the names of organizations that are more or less in control of these …, or at least planning these types of events.
In a sense they could be spontaneous, in a sense there could be some type of organization or institution behind these types of events but what is clear is that American policies, as far as Muslims are concerned in the world, are very hostile. Even the American media has been in charge of presenting Muslims in a demonic fashion to the public.
And here you are listening to this output in the mainstream media; there are a type of religious fanatics within Christianity and within Judaism, you have religious fanatics; there is no way to skirt this issue.
And they will picked up on this feedback and this streaming of inaccurate and offensive presentations from month to month and from years to years. What do you expect?
After you feed the public with this demonic presentation of Islam, there is bound to be those in the Christian or in the Jewish context that will produce such a cinematic presentation and then you have a reaction to that from Muslims, as I said, who are right now trying to figure out their political programs especially in these two countries.
When you can extend that and generalize it and apply it to the rest of the Muslim World and I would not exclude the possibility that in the coming days or in the coming weeks there would be further attacks or further reactions by Muslims towards American presence, whether that is diplomatic or whether it is military or even could be some cultural centers that the Americans may have in different parts of the Muslim World, simply because the United States has not shown enough political maturity to approach the Muslims as a people in the world worthy of self determination.