UN concerned over attacks on Western embassies

The protests have spread to over 15 countries across the world, especially in the Arab world.

Updated: Sep 15, 2012, 12:40 PM IST

UN concerned over attacks on Western embassies
United Nations: The UNSC has expressed deep concern over a series of attacks against Western embassies across the Arab world over a film deemed offensive to Islam, even as a top UN official asked people not to give publicity to the "malicious and deliberately provocative" movie.

In a press statement, the 15-nation Security Council condemned in the "strongest terms" the violent attacks on embassies and consular premises in Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and other countries that have left several people dead.

The protests have spread to over 15 countries across the world, especially in the Arab world. The protests have also spread to Bangladesh, Iran and Indonesia.

It said the very nature of diplomatic premises is peaceful and among the core functions of diplomats is the promotion of better understanding across countries and cultures.

Noting that the acts of violence are "unjustifiable" regardless of who commits them and their motivations, the Council called on all authorities to take all appropriate steps to protect diplomatic and consular premises against any intrusion or damage.

Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay also strongly condemned the violent reactions to the movie, asking people not to give publicity to the film that portrays a "distorted" image of Muslims.

Pillay said she understands the need of people to protest against the movie but stressed that the protests should be peaceful in nature.

"The film is malicious and deliberately provocative and portrays a disgracefully distorted image of Muslims," Pillay said in a statement.

"I fully understand why people wish to protest strongly against it, and it is their right to do so peacefully."

Pillay urged religious and political leaders to make their best efforts to restore calm.

She condemned the murders of US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other US consulate officials as well as the killings of protesters in police firing.

The human rights chief described the film as the latest in a string of deliberately provocative acts targeting particular religions and their followers.

She said the best way to deal with such provocations was to ignore them.

"Deliberate and obnoxious acts of this type should be deprived of the oxygen of publicity," she said.

"As the Secretary-General has stated, the fault line is not between Muslim and non-Muslim societies," she added, "but between a small number of extremists on different sides, with a vested interest in stirring hostility and conflict."

Recalling the killing of over 20 people in Afghanistan last year after a Florida pastor burnt copy of the holy Qoran, Pillay said: "It is deeply tragic and reprehensible that people who have nothing whatsoever to do with these disgraceful stunts should lose their lives to enraged mobs and extremists in countries such as Libya and Afghanistan."

The UN human rights chief noted that there is a legal framework, which offers strong protective measures to all forms of expression, while at the same time giving States the possibility to impose restrictions that are provided by law and which are necessary for the respect of the rights and reputations of others.