US embassy on Libya attacks: Suriname a model for the world

PARAMARIBO–Margaret B. McKean, Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim at the American Embassy in Paramaribo, on Friday likened Suriname to a model for the rest of the world for the way it embraces its diversity. Reflecting on the September 11 attacks on US diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, during which four Americans were killed, McKean said “we are fortunate to live and work in Suriname, a country that shares the U.S. values of religious freedom and tolerance.”

The attacks were sparked by outrage over a film ridiculing Muhammad produced by an American in California and being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the United States. Excerpts from the film dubbed into Arabic were posted on YouTube.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has since condemned the film, saying, “this video is disgusting and reprehensible.” But Clinton added that “there is no justification, none at all, for responding to this video with violence. We condemn the violence that has resulted, in the strongest terms. And we greatly appreciate that many Muslims in the United States and around the world have spoken out on this issue.”

Chargé d’Affaires McKean had a similar message to the Suriname community. “Some people have pointed to the inflammatory video and implied the reaction to it was understandable. They are wrong. Muslims in the United States and around the world have spoken out to condemn the response to the video, and we call on the Muslim community in Suriname to join these moderate voices. Secretary Clinton made clear in her remarks at the start of the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue that she finds the video disgusting and reprehensible but “there is no justification, none at all, for responding to the video with violence. This is an attack that should shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world.”

McKean said the attack and the subsequent protests in the Middle East are far from Suriname’s shores, and Surinamers are fortunate not to feel the reverberations of the violence and unrest. She added however that as a tolerant, democratic nation, Suriname has a rightful place in joining other like-minded countries in denouncing violence that has no place in a respected religion. “I am sure you will agree, there is no justification for this type of senseless violence and President Obama has appealed to nations around the world to stand together and condemn these acts,” she said. She said the tragedy of the attack affected the American diplomatic service very personally. “We condemn in the strongest terms this senseless act of violence, and we send our prayers to the families, friends, and colleagues of those we’ve lost.”

She commended Suriname’s harmony. “Like the United States, Suriname respects all faiths.  Since I have been in Suriname, I have observed people of all religions living and working side by side and even celebrating one another’s traditions and holidays. May we continue to enjoy together the peaceful, tolerant community of Suriname.”