Protesters in Egypt and Libya attacked US diplomatic missions on Tuesday in a spasm of violence that led to the death of a State Department officer at the consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi after fierce clashes at the compound.
The violence in Benghazi followed protests in neighboring Egypt where protesters scaled the walls of the Cairo embassy and tore down the American flag and burned it during protests over what demonstrators said was a US film that insulted the Prophet Mohammed.
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Following the spasm of attacks, the filmmaker, who identifies himself as an Israeli Jew, has gone into hiding.
Writer and director Sam Bacile spoke on the phone Tuesday from an unidentified location. He remained defiant, saying Islam is "a cancer" and he wanted his film to make a political statement.
Protesters outside US embassy in Cairo
The 56-year-old says he believes his video will help his native land by exposing Islam's flaws to the world. Excerpts dubbed into Arabic were posted on YouTube.
Among other claims that have caused outrage, the film claims Mohammed was a philanderer who approved of child sexual abuse.
Bacile says he's sorry for the person who died, but blames lax embassy security.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Bacile said he raised $5 million from about 100 Jewish donors, whom he declined to identify. Working with about 60 actors and 45 crew members, he said he made the two-hour movie in three months last year in California.
The film has been promoted by Dr. Terry Jones, the Florida pastor whose burning of Qurans previously sparked deadly riots around the world, who said Tuesday that he planned to show a 13-minute trailer that night at his church in Gainesville, Fla.
"It is an American production, not designed to attack Muslims but to show the destructive ideology of Islam," he said in a statement. "The movie further reveals in a satirical fashion the life of Muhammad."
Riots outside US embassy (Photo: AP)
Meanwhile, in wake of the attacks on US diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya, republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney harshly criticized the Obama administration for its response to the attacks.
In a statement Tuesday night, Romney says he's outraged by the attacks. But he calls it "disgraceful" that the Obama administration's first reaction wasn't to condemn the Tuesday attacks but, in Romney's words, "to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."
Earlier in the day, the US Embassy in Cairo issued a statement condemning what it called "continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims," an apparent reference to the video.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed the death of the US diplomat, who was not identified, and condemned the attack on the Benghazi consulate.
Clinton further expressed concern that the protests might spread to other countries. She said the US is working with "partner countries around the world to protect our personnel, our missions, and American citizens worldwide."
"Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet," Clinton said in a statement released by the State Department. "The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind."
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