US Ambassador To Libya, Three Other Staffers Killed In Riots Against Anti-Islam Film



BENGHAZI - The US Ambassador to Libya and three other staff members were killed following an attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi amid protests against an American amateur film denouncing the Prophet Muhammad.

Al Jazeera reported that US Ambassador Christopher Stevens died from smoke inhalation after the consulate was set ablaze in the Libyan city where the 2011 uprising against Muammar Gaddafi began.

A spokesman for Libya's Supreme Security Committee, Abdel-Monem Al-Hurr told the pan-Arabic network today that armed militia were firing rocket-propelled grenades at the building.

Amb. Stevens was a friend of Libya and we are shocked at the the attacks on the US consulate in Benghazi.

— Dr.Mustafa Abushagur (@MustafaAG) September 12, 2012

The timing of the violence coincided with memorials in the United States for the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, as protests spread in Cairo and Benghazi against the news of an American film production that satirizes Islam's founding prophet.

Controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones was promoting the film Tuesday, declaring in a press conference that it was "not designed to attack Muslims but to show the destructive ideology of Islam," reports the New York Times.

The Egypt Independent reported that 5,000 people protested outside of Cairo's US Embassy Tuesday evening. The daily newspaper reported that protesters tore down the American flag, replacing it with a black Islamic flag that read: "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger."

Embassy officials released a statement following the attacks on the consulates, condemning "the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims ... Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."

Many have criticized the statement, interpreting it as apologizing for free speech. AFP reported that Mitt Romney has slammed the Obama administration, saying: "It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."

US #Benghazi diplomats are killed in an attack & Mitt Romney disgracefully seeks to capitalize on it politically before knowing the facts?

— Hesiod Theogeny (@Hesiod2k11) September 12, 2012

ABC News reported that the White House has tried to distance itself from the statement, citing an official as saying, "no one in Washington approved that statement before it was released and it doesn't reflect the views of the U.S. government."

Stevens, 52, was confirmed as Ambassador earlier this year, having already served two tours in Libya, including running the office in Benghazi during the revolt against Gaddafi. This is a video that the embassy circulated last spring introducing Stevens to Libyans.

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Migrant Lives

The Other Scandal At The Poland-Belarus Border: Where's The UN?

The United Nations, UNICEF, Red Cross and other international humanitarian organizations seems to be trying to reach the Polish-Belarusian border, where Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko is creating a refugee crisis on purpose.

Migrants in Michalowo, Belarus, next to the border with Poland.

Wojciech Czuchnowski

WARSAW — There is no doubt that the refugees crossing the Belarusian border with Poland — and by extension reaching the European Union — were shepherded through by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. There is more than enough evidence that this is an organized action of the dictator using a network of intermediaries stretching from Africa and the Middle East. But that is not all.

The Belarusian regime has made no secret that its services are guiding refugees to the Polish border, literally pushing them onto (and often, through) the wires.

It can be seen in films made available to the media by... Belarusian border guards and Lukashenko's official information agencies.

Tactics of a strongman

Refugees are not led to the border by "pretend soldiers" in uniforms from a military collectibles store. These are regular formations commanded by state authorities. Their actions violate all rules of peaceful coexistence and humanitarianism to which Belarus has committed itself as a state.

Belarus is dismissed by the "rest of the world" as a hopeless case of a bizarre (although, in the last year, increasingly brutal) dictatorship. But it still formally belongs to a whole range of organizations whose principles it violates every day on the border with Poland.

Indeed, Belarus is a part of the United Nations (it is even listed as a founding state in its declaration), it belongs to the UNICEF, to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and even to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Photo of Polish soldiers setting up a barbed wire fence in the Border Zone near Krynki, Belarus

Polish soldiers set up a barbed wire fence in the Border Zone near Krynki, Belarus

Maciej Luczniewski/ZUMA

Lukashenko would never challenge the Red Cross

Each of these entities has specialized bureaus whose task is to intervene wherever conventions and human rights are violated. Each of these organizations should have sent their observers and representatives to the conflict area long ago — and without asking Belarus for permission. They should be operating on both sides of the border, as their presence would certainly make it more difficult to break the law.

An incomprehensible absence

Neither the leader of Poland's ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczyński nor even Lukashenko would dare to keep the UN, UNICEF, OSCE or the Red Cross out of their countries.

In recent weeks, the services of one UN state (Belarus) have been regularly violating the border of another UN state (Poland). In the nearby forests, children are being pushed around and people are dying. Despite all of this, none of the international organizations seems to be trying to reach the border nor taking any kind of action required by their responsibilities.

Their absence in such a critical time and place is completely incomprehensible, and their lack of action raises questions about the use of international treaties and organizations created to protect them.

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