Region condemns deadly attack on consulate in Benghazi
Regional officials say that violence has no place in society and is not a part of Islam.
By Menekse Tokyay, Drazen Remikovic, Erl Murati, Linda Karadaku and Bilijana Lajmanovska for SES Türkiye -- 13/09/12
Government and religious leaders in Southeast Europe and Turkey are condemning the attack by an armed mob on the US consulate in Benghazi that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other officials on Tuesday (September 11th).
The US Consulate in Benghazi is seen in flames during a protest by an armed group that killed J. Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, and three diplomatic staff members. [Reuters]
"This terrorist act on the US ambassador has also targeted the security and stability of Libya, as well as the Libyan people's aspirations for peace and tranquility," Selcuk Unal, spokesman for Turkey's Foreign Affairs Ministry, told SES Türkiye.
"Turkey has consistently emphasised that terror has no religion or nationality, and is a crime against humanity. Turkey continues to believe that the effective combating of terrorism requires the unity and the solidarity of the international community."
Witnesses said the mob looted the consulate before setting it on fire. The victims died in the blaze, while other staff members "were evacuated and are safe and sound," Libya Deputy Interior Minister Wanis al-Sharif said.
According to the Interior Ministry's Security Commission, rocket-propelled grenades were fired at the consulate from a nearby farm.
The protest erupted over an independent film, "Innocence of Muslims," deemed offensive to the Prophet Mohammed. The US government had no connection with the video, which was produced privately by a real estate developer.
The Benghazi incident came a few hours after an attack on the US embassy in Cairo. Egyptian police managed to restore order without resorting to violence.
Muhamed Salkic, secretary-general of the Islamic Community in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), said objections over the movie should be made through discussion, not violence.
"Terrorism is certainly not the way to solve a dispute," Salkic told SES Türkiye. "There are always two sides at the conflict and people should analyse everything with calm and human behaviour. National authorities should do their job and not to allow such things to happen. Preventive measures are the best prescription for fighting terrorism."
Mufti Naim Ternava, president of the Islamic Community of Kosovo, sent his condolences to US President Barack Obama in a telegram.
"Such attacks are terrorists attacks which intend to stop the democratic processes and install ideological and criminal regimes," he said in the message. "The attack on the US mission is an attack on the democratic, universal and civilized values. I am convinced that today's attack in Bengazi does not represent the ambitions of the Libyan people, which has suffered enough from the Gadaffi regime."
Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci also condemned the attacks, and President Atifete Jahjaga expressed condolences.
Agron Hoxha, spokesman for the Muslim Community in Albania, said the mob's actions were criminal acts.
"A person's killing is a crime, and by religion is the same as killing all humankind. We feel pain and express our sympathy to American people. These are only failed attempts to harm world peace. Whoever is behind these attacks, is murderer and should have the deserved punishment," he said.
In Macedonia, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski expressed condolences and support for the US.
The United Macedonian Diaspora, an organisation for Macedonians living abroad, also condemned the attack.
"There is no room for terrorism and religious intolerance, and all of us around the world must stand resolute and united under the banner of freedom in protecting the basic ideas upon, which the US was founded," said Meto Koloski, the organisation's president.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Stevens had been in his job for only a few months.
"He spoke eloquently about his passion for service, for diplomacy and for the Libyan people. … As the conflict in Libya unfolded, Chris was one of the first Americans on the ground in Benghazi. He risked his own life to lend the Libyan people a helping hand to build the foundation for a new, free nation."
Speaking at the White House, Obama thanked Libyans for the role they played in responding to the attack.
"Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside the Americans," he said. "Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety and they carried Ambassador Stevens' body to the hospital, where we tragically learned he had died. It's especially tragic Chris Stevens died in Benghazi, because it's a city he helped to save."
The UN also condemned the Benghazi attack.
"The United Nations rejects defamation of religion in all forms, but there is no justification for violence such as occurred in Benghazi," UN Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told the Security Council during a regularly scheduled briefing on Libya.
"This attack in no way serves the interests of the people or the Libyan authorities and cannot be considered as a defense of Islam," Libya's Deputy U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi said. "This attack gravely damages the image of Islam."
Kamer Kasim, an analyst at the Ankara-based International Strategic Researches Organization, said Turkey and NATO should continue supporting Libya’s new government.
"The Western bloc, including Turkey, has supported the transition process Libya is going through up to now. However, such terrorist attacks once again show that such a support should be based on sustainable pillars, along with effective information tools" he said.
“Turkey and the other Western countries should provide Libya with durable support and supervision in this transition period. If not, we can find ourselves in a position unable to protect our own embassy buildings. Turkey proved that it has a good and efficient capacity to provide military with security training, as witnessed specifically in its successful training throughout Balkans and in Afghanistan," he said. "So, Turkey should assume much more active role in this process to lead the relevant efforts in order to strengthen the security infrastructure and training of the authorities."
Tokyay reported from Istanbul, Remikovic reported from Saravejo, Karadaku reported from Pristina, Murati reported from Tirana and Lajmanovska reported from Skopje.