Clinton Explains Why U.S. Can't Ban 'Disgusting and Reprehensible' Anti-Islam Video

Susan Jones | September 13, 2012 | 11:12am EDT
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Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers remarks during a press conference at the U.S. Consulate in Vladivostok, Russia Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012. (AP Photo/Jim Watson, Pool)

( - Calling a formerly obscure anti-Islam video "disgusting and reprehensible," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Thursday said it is no excuse for the type of violence the world witnessed in Egypt and Libya on Tuesday.

She also explained why the U.S. cannot ban films like the one that some people are blaming for the violence against U.S. interests overseas:

"To us -- to me personally -- this video is disgusting and reprehensible. It appears to have a deeply cynical purpose -- to denigrate a great religion and to provoke rage." She repeated that "there is no justification" for responding to the video with violence.

"Now I know it is hard for some people to understand why the United States cannot or does not just prevent these kinds of reprehensible videos from ever seeing the light of day. I would note that in today's world, with today's technologies, that is impossible. But even if it were possible, our country does have a long tradition of free expression, which is enshrined in our Constitution and in our law. And we do not stop individual citizens from expressing their views, no matter how distasteful they may be," she told a gathering at the State Department.

"There are, of course, different views around the world about the outer limits of free speech and free expression. But there should be no debate about the simple proposition that violence in response to speech is not acceptable.

"Any responsible leader, she added, "should be standing up now" to draw the line at such violence.

Clinton's remarks follow a conversation between President Obama and Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi Wednesday night.

Morsi, according to the Associated Press, said he would not allow attacks on foreign embassies in Cairo, but he also blasted the anti-Islam film produced by private individuals in the U.S.

"We condemn strongly ... all those who launch such provocations and who stand behind that hatred," Morsi said, adding that he had asked Obama "to put an end to such behavior."

Clinton on Thursday said that "Islam, like other religions, respects the fundamental human dignity of human beings. And it is a violation of that fundamental dignity to wage attacks on innocents."

She also called it "especially wrong" to attack diplomatic missions: "All governments have a responsibility to protect those spaces and people, because to attack an embassy is to the attack the idea that we can work together to build understanding and a better future."

As Clinton spoke in Washington, live television footage from Cairo showed more mob fury outside the U.S. Embassy, with angry Muslims chanting anti-U.S. slogans as riot police surrounded them. Even bigger protests are expected tomorrow.

Earlier on Thursday, hundreds of protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Yemen's capital and burned the American flag there.

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