NEW YORK (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed Monday to Muslims to show "dignity" and not resort to violence as they protest an anti-Islam film produced in the United States.
Speaking at her husband's Clinton Global Initiative before meeting the presidents of Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and Pakistan on the sidelines of the annual U.N. General Assembly, Clinton said the United States would always champion the rights to peaceful protest and free expression even if it deplored the content of the speech. But, she said, "dignity does not come from avenging insults."
Her comments came as demonstrators angry over the vulgar depiction of the Prophet Mohammed in the video continue to protest around the Muslim world and Pakistani government minister put a $100,000 bounty on the head of the filmmaker.
"Dignity does not come from avenging insults, especially with violence that can never be justified," Clinton said. "It comes from taking responsibility and advancing our common humanity."
Fomenting grievance, she said, produces violent protests that accomplish nothing in the way of improving living standards, creating jobs or developing societies.
"Building schools instead of burning them, investing in their people's creativity, not inciting their rage, opening their economies and societies to have more connections with the wider world, not shutting off the internet or attacking embassies" is the way to better life, she said.
"Extremists around the world are working hard to drive us apart," Clinton warned. "All of us need to stand together to resist these forces and to support democratic transitions under way in North Africa and the Middle East."
The Obama administration has been grasping for ways to try to tamp down the fury over the video, especially in Pakistan, where some of the most intense and sustained protests have been held. The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad released public-service advertisements showing President Barack Obama and Clinton denouncing the film.
Compounding the difficulty, Pakistan's railways minister offered $100,000 to anyone who kills the maker of the film. The Pakistani government disavowed the bounty on Monday, just hours before Clinton met President Asif Ali Zardari.
"We very much appreciate the strong response of your government," Clinton told Zardari.
Zardari replied: "It's been a difficult time for all of us."
Senior U.S. officials present at the Clinton-Zardari meeting said all members of the Pakistani delegation had condemned the bounty. One, who is a member of the railway minister's political party, told the Americans that the party would soon be considering his future role.