Washington: With protests growing in the Middle East over an anti-Islam film, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday said the US government had absolutely nothing to do with the video, whose content and message it completely rejects.
As the US grapples to contain the aftermath of the stir, Hillary said she found the film "disgusting and reprehensible" but also condemned the violence that it has provoked.
"Let me state very clearly -- and I hope it is obvious -- that the United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video. We absolutely reject its content and message," Hillary said in her opening remarks during the US-Morocco Strategic Dialogue here.
"To us, to me personally, this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage," Hillary said.
Starting with Egypt and Libya, the protests on Thursday spread to other countries including Yemen and Morocco.
"We are closely watching what is happening in Yemen and elsewhere, and we certainly hope and expect that there will be steps taken to avoid violence and prevent the escalation of protests into violence," she said.
At the same time, Hillary said there is no justification, none at all, for responding to this video with violence.
"We condemn the violence that has resulted, in the strongest terms. And we greatly appreciate that many Muslims in the United States and around the world have spoken out on this issue," she asserted.
She said in today`s world of technology, it was impossible to prevent such content from finding its way to viewers.
"But even if it were possible, our country does have a long tradition of free expression, which is enshrined in our Constitution and our law. And we do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views, no matter how distasteful they may be," she said.
Hillary said violence should have no place in religion.
"Islam, like other religions, respects the fundamental dignity of human beings, and it is a violation of that fundamental dignity to wage attacks on innocents. As long as there are those who are willing to shed blood and take innocent life in the name of religion, the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace," she said.
Hillary said it is especially wrong for violence to be directed against diplomatic missions.
"These are places whose very purpose is peaceful, to promote better understanding across countries and cultures. All governments have a responsibility to protect those spaces and people because to attack an embassy is to attack the idea that we can work together to build understanding and a better future," said the Secretary of State.
"There are, of course, different views around the world about the outer limits of free speech and free expression. But there should be no debate about the simple proposition that violence in response to speech is not acceptable.”
"We all, whether we are leaders in government, leaders in civil society or religious leaders, must draw the line at violence. And any responsible leader should be standing up now and drawing that line," Hillary said.