Sec. Clinton welcomed diplomats and esteemed guests for a belated celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr at the State Department on Thursday night. While Eid is a joyous occasion, this year’s State Department event was held under the shadow of grief resulting from attacks on embassies across the world, including an attack on the US Embassy in Libya which took the lives of several diplomats there including the American Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Libya’s Ambassador to the US, Ali Aujali, gave a moving speech at the event:
Thank you very much, Secretary Clinton. Standing beside you here in the Department of State, it shows the world how much the Americans are standing by the Libyans and the Libya revolution. You do support us during the war, but you have to support us during the peace. We are going through a very difficult time, and we need the help of friends.
It is a very sad day for me, since I learned of the death of my dear friend and colleague, Ambassador Chris Stevens. I knew Chris for the last six years. We play tennis together, we drive in one car, and we had some traditional Libyan food in my house. I must tell you, Madam Secretary, and tell the American people, that Chris is a hero. He is a real hero. He’s the man who believes in the Libyans and the Libyan ability that they will achieve democracy after 42 years of the dictatorship.
Now we are facing a serious problem, and we have to maintain and we have to – we need security and stability in our country. The government, unfortunately, faces a serious problem, personnel and equipment. And the support of you and the friends who support us during the war is very important.
I want to show you and to show the American people how much it was – we were shocked by the death of four American diplomats. It is a very sad story to tell. But I am sure that it is our responsibility, and the responsibility of the Libyan people, that we have to protect our people, we have to protect the Americans in the first place and have to protect all the diplomatic missions who are serving in our country. I am sure that without the help, we will not be able to do it.
I hope that this sad incident which happened, this terrorist attack which took place against the American consulate in Libya, it will tell us how much we have to work closely. Our religion, our culture, never tells us that this is the way to express your view. It is – in fact (inaudible) a terrorist act. This is condemned by all the world and by all the Libyans at the top level of the Libyan authority.
Please, Madam Secretary, accept our apology and accept our condolence for the loss of the four Americans, innocent people. They lost their lives in the Libyan territory. Chris, he loves Benghazi, he loves the people, he talks to them, he eats with them, and he committed — and unfortunately lost his life because of this commitment.
Madam Secretary, thank you very much indeed. (Applause.)
Secretary Clinton followed Ambassador Aujali’s remarks by reiterating that the United States unquestioningly rejects the content of the inflammatory film that sparked this week’s attacks, and called on people of all faiths to spread tolerance and speak out against attempts to denigrate any religion, and to demonstrate the strength of their faith by restraining from violence.