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22 September 2012

Pakistani TV shows US ads condemning anti-Islam film

obama_muslims.jpgPakistani TV channels are airing an advert showing news clips of US President Barack Obama condemning an anti-Islam film made in the US.

The advert also features a statement from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a news conference rejecting the amateur film's message.

Unrest over the film, Innocence of Muslims, has claimed several lives.

Also on Thursday, a protest against the film outside the US embassy which had turned violent ended peacefully.

The adverts seek to emphasise the message reiterated by US officials throughout the crisis: that the "disgusting" film was not made by the US government, but that there is never any justification for violence.

The embassy described the advert as a "public service announcement" and repeated the statements from Mr Obama and Ms Clinton on its Twitter feed.

A caption on the advert, which ends with the seal of the US embassy in Islamabad, reads "Paid Content", the Associated Press reports.

State department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed the US spent $70,000 (£43,220) to air the clip on seven Pakistani TV stations.

She said the US embassy in Pakistan wanted to run the ads because they determined those messages were not reaching enough of the Pakistani public through regular news reporting.

"As you know, after the video came out, there was concern in lots of bodies politic, including Pakistan, as to whether this represented the views of the US government," Ms Nuland said.


She said the television spots were the "best way" to reach as many as 90 million Pakistanis.


The low-budget film that sparked the controversy was made in the US and is said to insult the Prophet Muhammad.


Its exact origins are unclear and the alleged producer for the trailer of the film, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is in hiding.

'Out like a light'

The Pakistani authorities had earlier called on the army as police struggled to contain the crowd of thousands outside the US embassy in Islamabad with tear gas and live rounds.


Some protesters had said they would not leave the diplomatic enclave until the US embassy was on fire.


Streets leading to the enclave, where most of the embassies are housed, were earlier blocked off with shipping containers in an effort to increase security.


Television pictures showed chaotic scenes as police tried to gain control of the situation.


Protesters burned an effigy of President Obama and threw missiles at the police.


The BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad, who did not see any evidence of the army at the scene, says the protest was "turned out like a light".


He said it was amazing, given the strength of feeling at the protest earlier, that the crowd left as peacefully as it did.


The US state department earlier issued a warning against any non-essential travel to Pakistan.


It also "strongly urged" US citizens in Pakistan to avoid protests and large gatherings.


Anti-US sentiment has been growing since people became aware of the amateur film earlier this month.


The US Ambassador to Libya was killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on 11 September.


The US secretary of state announced on Thursday that she would appoint an independent panel, chaired by a retired diplomat, to investigate the incident.


White House spokesman Jay Carney said earlier in the day, in a statement read to reporters on Air Force One, that it had been "a terrorist attack".


Protests in countries around the world have since taken place, with tensions further inflamed by the publication by a French magazine of obscene cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday.


The Pakistani government has called a national holiday on Friday to enable people to demonstrate peacefully.


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