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US goes to airwaves to denounce movie

Effort to reduce anger, tensions across Pakistan

 Muslim demonstrators in Pakistan shouted slogans against America at a protest Thursday in Quetta of an anti-Islamic film. In a bid to quell the furor, the US Embassy released a television advertisement to Pakistani stations showing President Obama and other Americans condemning the film.

BANARAS KHAN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Muslim demonstrators in Pakistan shouted slogans against America at a protest Thursday in Quetta of an anti-Islamic film. In a bid to quell the furor, the US Embassy released a television advertisement to Pakistani stations showing President Obama and other Americans condemning the film.

ISLAMABAD — US Embassy advertisements condemning an anti-Islam video appeared on Pakistani television Thursday in an attempt to undercut anger against the United States where the film was produced. Hundreds of youths, however, clashed with security officials as they tried in vain to reach the embassy in Islamabad amid continuing outrage in many countries about the film’s vulgar depiction of the prophet Mohammed.

The ads reflected efforts by the US government to distance itself from the video in a nation where anti-American sentiment already runs high. Violence linked to the movie has left at least 30 people in seven countries dead, including the American ambassador to Libya. Two people have died in protests in Pakistan.

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In recent days, the decision by a French satirical magazine to release cartoons crudely depicting the prophet has added to the tension, as may the upcoming issue of the German satirical magazine Titanic. The magazine’s co-editor Martin Sonneborn said it was up to readers to decide whether the cover of an Arab wielding a sword actually depicts the prophet Mohammed.

Most outrage appears linked to the amateurish movie, which portrays the prophet as a fraud, womanizer, and child molester.

The television ads in Pakistan feature clips of President Obama and Secretary and of State Hillary Rodham Clinton during press appearances in Washington in which they condemned the video. Their words were subtitled in Urdu.

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‘‘We absolutely reject its content and message,’’ Clinton said in the advertisement.

The advertisements end with the seal of the American Embassy in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the ad was produced by the embassy, which spent $70,000 to air the 30-second spot on seven Pakistani television stations. Pakistan is the only country where the ads are running.

The embassy wanted to run the ads because it determined that the messages of Obama and Clinton were not reaching enough of the Pakistani public through regular news reporting, Nuland said.

‘‘As you know, after the [anti-Islam] video came out, there was concern in lots of bodies politic, including Pakistan, as to whether this represented the views of the US government. So, in order to be sure that we reached the largest number of Pakistanis, some 90 million as I understand it in this case with these spots, it was the judgment that this was the best way to do it,’’ Nuland said.

In an e-mail, the embassy in Islamabad sent out a link to video of ordinary Americans condemning the anti-Islam film, which appeared on YouTube.

The State Department compiled the clips to give foreign audiences an idea of what regular Americans and their religious leaders thought of the video, Nuland said.

Protests have tapered off in many countries, but in Pakistan on Thursday, more than 2,000 people tried to reach the US Embassy inside a guarded enclave that houses embassies and government offices.

Riot police used tear gas and batons to keep stone-throwing demonstrators away from the enclave. The government later called in army troops to protect the restricted areas when it appeared that police could not handle the situation.

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