Attacks in Libya, Egypt Condemned
Washington, D.C. – In response to news that four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, have been killed during attacks near a U.S. consulate in Libya, Human Rights First’s Tad Stahnke today issued the following statement: “Today, as we mourn the deaths of American diplomats serving in Libya, we condemn these violent attacks in Benghazi and in Cairo. We urge the Libyan and Egyptian governments to immediately and publicly decry this violence, to call for it to end, and to work quickly to bring those responsible for these murders to justice. They must also work with the United States to prevent additional attacks on American embassy employees or facilities. “Acts of hatred and discrimination, as well as incitement of violence against any religious group, should always be condemned. However, there is no justification for this violence. Restricting speech is not the answer to fighting bigotry and hatred.” Last year, in response to plans to publicly burn Korans in the United States, Human Rights First organized Faith Shared, an event that brought together a broad spectrum of religious leaders to demonstrate respect for each other’s traditions. Dozens of churches throughout the United States, including the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, invited Imams and Rabbis to read religious texts as part of the event. In March 2012, Human Rights First also published a report documenting more than 100 recent cases from 18 countries that demonstrate the gross abuse of national blasphemy laws. As the report shows, blasphemy laws are frequently used to stifle debate and dissent, harass rivals, and settle petty disputes among neighbors, business partners and political adversaries. Increasingly, these laws also trigger violence.