Barbarous attacks on diplomatsViolent attacks on Tuesday against U.S. diplomatic outposts in Egypt and Libya dumbfounds us. After the barbarous attacks led by angry protesters and armed groups, U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was dead along with three other U.S. embassy staff. That constitutes unequivocal terror against diplomats in what amounts to uncivilized and despicable behavior that cannot be justified no matter what. It is a grave provocation against not only the United States but also the international community.
The fact that a multitude of armed protesters swarmed the U.S. consular office in Libya’s rebel capital, Benghazi, while shooting rifles in the air just because a film produced in the U.S. insulted Islam is a clear violation of international law and diplomatic custom. A similar incident in Egypt - in which a group of protesters scaled a wall at the U.S. Embassy compound in Cairo, hauled down the Stars and Stripes and burned it - is no exception. An expression of discontent with a particular country in such a violent manner cannot be pardoned for whatever reason. The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations mandates that the international community protect foreign embassies and public offices by recognizing the inviolability of the premises of diplomatic missions, which should be observed even during war. Therefore, an act of attacking American embassies or consulates and slaughtering diplomats is an outright challenge to international rules. International society must denounce the act and come up with stern responses that are anything but vague. In the same context, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as well as the disagreement-prone Security Council, took concerted action to condemn the outrageous attack.
There could be various reasons for the protests and raids: defamation of a religion, political instability in the countries involved and a conspicuous gap in understanding of the freedom of expression, to name a few. However, a controversy over contempt for Islam is an issue that should be addressed through a dialogue between the parties involved. A violent mob cannot use it as an excuse for rationalizing a virulent assault.
Diplomatic relations between nations must not be threatened by an obscure movie on YouTube. Otherwise, they are not helpful to anyone. Law enforcement authorities in Libya and Egypt must arrest the offenders quickly, bring them to justice and take measures to protect diplomats and their offices pursuant to the Vienna convention. America, too, may hopefully find ways to communicate with Muslim countries around the world.