US ambassador killed in Libya protest over Mohammed film
Missions in Cairo and Benghazi beseiged over video depicting Mohammed as ‘buffoon and womaniser’
THE US ambassador to Libya and three other officials have been killed in a rocket attack on the American consulate in Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11. The building came under fire during protests over an American-produced film that ridiculed Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.
Al Jazeera reported that Christopher Stevens (pictured below with Libyan National Transitional Council chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil) died from smoke inhalation after an armed mob attacked and set fire to the building.
There were also demonstrations in Cairo, where hundreds of demonstrators scaled the walls of the US embassy in Cairo on Tuesday and replaced the American flag with a black flag featuring an inscription "often used by Islamic radicals," according to CNN.
The violence is understood to have been prompted by an insulting YouTube video about Islam. The New York Times said it had been posted by Sam Bacile, "a 52-year old Israeli-American real estate developer in California".
The clip came to international attention when it was picked up by controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones, who promoted it as part of his "International Judge Mohammed Day".
The amateurish video depicts Mohammed "as a child of uncertain parentage, a buffoon, a womaniser, a homosexual, a child molester and a greedy, bloodthirsty thug," according to the NYT.
The paper added: "The assaults were a violent reminder that the changes sweeping the region have hardly dispelled the rage against the United States that still smoulders in pockets around the Arab world."
The attacks also caused a political storm in Washington when Mitt Romney was accused of trying to score political points on the back of them.
The US embassy in Cairo, aware that trouble was brewing, had issued a statement earlier yesterday condemning the video in an effort to prevent an attack. Afterwards this was seized upon by Romney, who believed the statement had come after the protest and said it was "disgraceful" that the US government had sided with the demonstrators.
"Romney has long sought to make the case that the Obama administration has apologised for American actions abroad and says he would never 'apologise for America'," said Reuters.