Pakistan’s “Love for the Prophet Day” Ends with 15 Dead, 200+ Wounded and Property Mess

On Monday, September 17, the  Pakistan Telecom Authority had ordered access to the anti-Islam film roiling parts of the world blocked from Pakistan.  According to AFP Pakistan, attempts to access YouTube is met with a message saying the website had been classed as containing “indecent material.”

Yet, Russia Today reports that on Wednesday, September 19, several hundred lawyers (good grief, lawyers!) protesting over this same film now blocked in Pakistan have broken into the Diplomatic Enclave in Islamabad that houses the US Embassy and other foreign missions. The report says that police stopped the demonstrators before they could reach the US Embassy, which is surrounded by another set of high walls and protected by security guards. Protesters chanted slogans such as: “Down With America” and “Whoever is a friend of America is a traitor” as they forced their way through a gate into the enclave.

I saw the lawyers’ protest and thought ominous this development.  Because if we could not expect lawyers, officers of the legal system to exercise prudence and restraint in the face of some great perceived offense, what can we expect from non-lawyers?

Today, September 21, officially declared a national Pakistani holiday – the “Love for the Prophet Day”, shows just what a mob of 10,000 in the capital city of Islamabad, 15,000 in Karachi and more in Lahore and Peshawar can do when it wants to burn down its own house in rage.

The Express Tribune reports on the September 21 protests across Pakistan over an anti-Islam film which descended into riots resulting in several deaths, scores wounded and loss of properties:

Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool (pbuh) [love of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Day] was observed throughout Pakistan on Friday on the orders of the Government of Pakistan, condemning the anti-Islam film.

After Friday prayers, protests erupted in several cities across the country which soon turned violent. As the police remained unable to control the protesters, a loss to life and property was reported.

A total of 15 people were killed across the country and more than 200 were wounded during the protests. Cinemas, banks, vehicles and fuel stations were torched, while markets were also vandalised.

Two police officials were also killed during clashes in Karachi.

The central leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan (JUI-F) Maulana Fazal Rehman commended the nation over successful protests across the country against the anti-Islam film.

People have died and it’s a success. I must confess that efforts to wrap my head around that one has so far been a failure.

An Express Tribune commenter snarkily writes:

“Somebody insulted me today. I am going to go home and burn it down. Now, someone will think twice about insulting me.”

Below is a video clip from GlobalPost’s Karachi-based journalist Mariya Karimjee with Breaking News Editor Hanna Ingber, giving her insights into how the Pakistani government and political parties have encouraged the anti-US protests.  Read more: http://bit.ly/QrRNxS

The AP  reports that the deadliest violence occurred in Karachi, where 12 people were killed and 82 wounded.  Armed demonstrators among a crowd of 15,000 reportedly fired on police, and the mob apparently burned down two cinemas and a bank.

In Peshawar, three people were killed and 61 were wounded.  Police fired on rioters who set fire to two movie theaters and the city’s chamber of commerce, as well as damaged shops and vehicles.

The report also says that police clashed with over 10,000 demonstrators in several neighborhoods, including in front of a five-star hotel near the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad where the U.S. Embassy and other foreign missions are located.

I have it in good authority that the members of the US Mission Pakistan including those in Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar are all safe and accounted for.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani U.N. Ambassador Abdullah Hussain Haroon went on CBS News and told Pamela Falk that if the U.S. wants to stop the attacks against American embassies, to “just lay off our Prophet, just lay off our Prophet. Is that too much to ask?” Which makes perfect sense, of course, as the US Government can just send a mass email to all American citizens, including our own idiots to lay off, right?  He works at the UN, in New York, and this shows real understanding of the United States.  And if that is not enough, he adds:

“Is what happened in Pakistan a manifestation of the people of Pakistan? Yes. Of the government of Pakistan? No,” Haroon said. “If the government of Pakistan was acquiescent of what is happening in Pakistan [the violence], they wouldn’t be firing teargas and bullets at the protestors.”

Diiiiiinnnnnnnngggggg! And he totally missed his chance to explain to the American public that his country has a population of over 180 million people and that the mob protesters rounded up to say 30,000 only accounts for  — wait for it —

0.0001666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666 ….

of its total population.

Because that’s what any well-trained diplomat would have done.  Instead, he  lumps all Pakistanis, all 180 million of them with a rampaging mob,  a deadly minority.   I’m baffled by such diplomatic eloquence.

 

 

 

 

 

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Remembering Chris Stevens: Share Your Photo or Story

The family of Ambassador Chris Stevens has set up a Tumblr to capture the memories of people he touched, far and near. The online remembrance says that Chris had a passion for building bridges between the people of the United States and the Middle East. And that in this spirit, a fund has been established in his name to support this important, yet unfinished, endeavor. The family envisions the Fund to support activities that promote religious tolerance, cultural understanding, educational youth exchanges, and other people-to-people programs.

The Stevens family has partnered with the New Venture Fund to house the J. Christopher Stevens Fund. The New Venture Fund is a 501(c)(3) public charity that supports public interest projects in areas including global health and development, human rights, conservation, education, and disaster relief. For more information, see http://www.newventurefund.org

All contributions by US donors are tax deductible. Donors residing outside of the United States should refer to the tax laws of their country of residence to determine the tax deductibility of their donation.

For information about the fund, please contact rememberingchrisstevens@gmail.com. For technical support, please contact support@networkforgood.org.

Photo from The Stevens Family (Used with Permission)

The Tumblr is about three days old and growing. There are photos of Ambassador Stevens with the Piedmont High School A Capella Choir at the Fourth of July Celebration in Piedmont Park in 1978; of him appearing as Robert Livingston in the 1980 community theatre production of 1776 in Piedmont, California; with The Rat Pack at the US Embassy Damascus Marine Ball in 2001.  There is even a photo of Stevens of Arabia (in full gear) from Halloween 2001.

What a bore it is, waking up in the morning always the same person. I wish I were unflinching and emphatic and had big eyebrows and a message for the Age.
— Chris Stevens, Piedmont High School Yearbook, 1978 (originally adopted from The Living Age, Volume 294)

I’ve read through the touching and tender stories shared by people who knew him in Piedmont High, UC Berkeley, Peace Corps, and the Foreign Service family.  And it’s hard not to be heartsick.  There are also some notes from Libyans in Tripoli and Benghazi.  Fair warning – you will need a big box of tissues.  Below are some excerpts.

 

A few days ago I had a silly idea: Go back in time and warn Chris about the Libyan terrorists. It’s not an original idea — actually, it was the plot of Back To The Future. But more to the point, it’s impossible, I don’t have a time machine. The only way back is to remember.
— David Wingate

 

Time passed, and Chris headed off to the State Department.  The last business card I have from him stated his billet as “Iran Desk Officer.”  I asked him what he did.  He said he could tell me, but then he’d have to kill me.
John Lamborn

 

I see you picked up a few things in the Middle East like the fine art of negotiating. I was looking forward to hounding you about this chair and how you proposed to get it to Thailand from Libya! Now I have no chair, am down one running partner, and have trouble sleeping. So tell me dear friend, why did you have to become a celebrated fallen hero when I would have preferred that you try to sell me another chair?
– M

 

He loved that part of the world and the people he met, and despite every reason not to, remained optimistic that the world could be made a better place. He was doing hugely important work, winning over hearts and minds, and I can’t imagine anyone being a better representative for our country overseas.
— Austin Tichenor

 

During an earlier tour in Tripoli, when Moammar Gaddafi was still in power, Chris once grabbed the camera off a Libyan intelligence goon on his tail, turned and, with a big smile, took the guy’s picture. Then he gave the camera back. The lanky Californian could be both charming and disarming, even as he made his point.
Robin Wright
Author of “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World.”

 

They told me you died but I refuse to mourn you.  I refuse to send condolences, and I will continue to refuse doing that.   So, I decided to send you an email instead like the old days.  I wanted to prove them wrong. They don’t know that someone like you never dies.  I refuse to yield to the will of evil, despair and darkness because you taught me not to. Chris—we shall meet up and you shall have “a social cigarette” (remember) and we shall both laugh just like the old days … they just think you died…
— Ibrahim, U.S. Consulate General Jerusalem

 

Your life was cut short on September eleven
We all know that you are gone to heaven
* * *
With sadness we grieve, and we shed tears
We will achieve your vision if it takes 100 years
—Mahmud Abudaber, Libyan American

 

I know in Tripoli where i live, the people love him, and miss him, they miss the times he strolled down the streets of the city, we all felt for once we have a diplomat who was one of us, a normal person, he ate where we ate he went to normal small local cafés. and people here loved that.
[…]
It’s not something sorry can fix but we truly are so sorry, i’m sorry we could not do more to keep Chris safe.
— Hassan Morajea, 18, British Libyan, Benghazi, Libya

 

We in Libya will miss Chris dearly and we are more than appreciative of his hard work and committed to bringing the evil group that took his life away to justice.

Thank you and we will miss you brother.
— Sami, Tripoli, Libya

 

I’ll end with an excerpt from a beautiful piece written by Allen Manzano, not because I knew Ambassador Stevens but because, it seems to me, he, too would wish “for laughing days to come again” … maybe not today or tomorrow when we have not yet burn our grief out … but one day soon …

Isn’t it true that when we heard the news we said to ourselves our laughing days are over?

Isn’t it true that knowing who he was with all his wisdom and caring heart, his skills, his willing servitude to make that longed for better world, we asked our selves can this be that this rare good man is gone?
[…]
Isn’t it true that our consolation is to have known this man, too soon taken, and to know that it would have surely been his ardent wish for those he loved that, yes, oh yes, in our work for good, our laughing days should come again?

 

If you have a story or a photograph to share of Ambassador Stevens, please visit http://www.rememberingchrisstevens.com/

 

 

Obama Nominates Ambassador Robert Godec as Next Ambassador to Kenya

On September 20, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Ambassador Robert F. Godec as the next Ambassador to the Republic of Kenya. The WH released the following brief bio:

Ambassador Robert F. Godec, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is currently Chargé d’affaires at the United States Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.  From 2009 to 2012, he was Principal Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the Department of State, and from 2006 to 2009, he served as the U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia.  Ambassador Godec served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs from 2005 to 2006 and as Deputy Coordinator for Iraq from 2004 to 2005.  Ambassador Godec’s overseas posts include: Acting Deputy Chief of Mission (2002), Minister Counselor for Economic Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa (1999-2002), and Economic Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya (1996 -1999).  Additional posts in Washington include: Assistant Office Director for Thailand and Burma in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs (1994-1996), and Director for Southeast Asian Affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (1992-1994).

Ambassador Godec received a B.A. from the University of Virginia and an M.A. from Yale University.

His official bio at State says that he joined the Foreign Service in 1985.  He earned a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from Yale University as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. He attended the State Department’s Senior Seminar and has received a Distinguished Honor Award and numerous other awards and commendations.  Also that he speaks French and German.

In 2009 while he was the US Ambassador to the US Embassy in Tunis, Ambassador Godec was one of the few Chief of Missions who had a Tumblr.  Here he is with students at the American Cooperative School of Tunis, a school founded in 1959 and burned down by protesters in the September 2012 protests over an anti-Islam movie.

“Reading Rocks!” at the American Cooperative School of Tunis a few weeks ago. Here you see some great kids dressed up as their favorite book characters and two ambassadors playing along. My friend and colleague, UK Ambassador Chris O’Connor, is in the Union Jack hat and I’m the Cat in the Hat, of course.
(Photo and caption from Ambassador Godec’s blog)

If confirmed, Ambassador Godec would succeed political appointee, Scott Gration who resigned from his position last July over “differences” with Washington.

Related item:

September 20, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts

 

 

 

 

Officially In: Deborah Ann McCarthy, from Foggy Bottom to Lithuania

On September 13, President Obama announced his intent to nominate Deborah Ann McCarthy to be the next Ambassador to the Republic of Lithuania. The WH released the following brief bio:

Deborah Ann McCarthy, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs.  Previous positions with the Department of State include Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Greece from 2008 to 2010, Special Coordinator for Venezuelan Affairs from 2006 to 2007, Senior Advisor for Counter Terrorism from 2004 to 2006, and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement from 2002 to 2004.  Additional overseas assignments include Consul General in Montreal, Canada (2001 to 2002), Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua (1998 to 2001), and Economic Counselor in Paris, France (1996 to 1998) and Port au Prince, Haiti (1991 to 1993).

Ms. McCarthy received a B.A. from the University of Virginia, and an M.A. and an M.S.F.S. from Georgetown University.

If confirmed, Mr. McCarthy would succeed career diplomat, Anne E. Derse who was appointed Chief of Mission to the US Embassy in Vilnius in 2009.

Related item:

September 13, 2012 | President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts