- The Washington Times - Friday, September 21, 2012

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday denounced deadly protests in Pakistan against an anti-Islam film and said “responsible leaders” must condemn the violence.

The Pakistani government declared Friday a national holiday and encouraged peaceful protests against the film that was made in the U.S. and insults Islam’s prophet Muhammad.

The protests turned violent and at least 17 people were killed across Pakistan on Friday and police fired live ammunition and tear gas at demonstrators.

“The violence we have seen cannot be tolerated,” Mrs. Clinton said, standing alongside Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, ahead of their meeting at the State Department.

Mrs. Clinton said the film at the center of the controversy was provocative and that it had been condemned by the Obama administration. “We found the video that’s at the core of this series of events offensive, disgusting, reprehensible,” she said.

“But that does not provide justification for violence, and therefore it is important for responsible leaders, indeed responsible people everywhere, to stand up and speak out against violence and particularly against those who would exploit this difficult moment to advance their own extremist ideologies,” she added.

Speaking after Mrs. Clinton, Ms. Khar ignored the secretary’s call to denounce the violence and instead focused her criticism on the film, which she described as blasphemous.

“Your condemnation has given a strong message that the United States government not only condemns it but has absolutely no support to such blasphemous videos or content anywhere,” Ms. Khar said. “I think that is an important message, and that message should go a long way in ending the violence on many streets in the world.”

A joint press availability by Mrs. Clinton and Ms. Khar at the end of their meeting on Friday afternoon was cancelled without explanation.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad has spent $70,000 on advertisements on Pakistani TV that feature President Obama and Mrs. Clinton denouncing the anti-Islam video.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned Richard Hoagland, the U.S. charge d’affaires in Islamabad, over the film.

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