The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad has been airing a 30-second ad, featuring President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemning an anti-Islam movie, across TV channels in Pakistan.
The ad features clips of Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton taken from press appearances in Washington and Morocco, saying that since the United States' founding, it has been a nation that respects all faiths, and that they condemn any attempt to "denigrate the religious beliefs of others." But at the same time, Mr. Obama adds, there is no justification for the "senseless violence" that has accompanied protests against the film. Later in the ad, Ms. Clinton states that the U.S. government had nothing to do with the video, and that it rejects its content and message. The seal of the American Embassy in Pakistan appears at the end.
The ad appeared across Pakistani news channels Thursday evening as over 2,000 protestors clashed with riot police. Friday has been declared a national holiday, dubbed "I love Prophet Muhammad Day," so people can hold peaceful demonstrations.
During today's State Department press briefing, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed that the ad is running. "In the case of Pakistan, it is common and traditional to have to buy airtime on Pakistani TV for public service announcements," she told reporters when asked if the U.S. was paying for the ads. "So in that environment, it was their recommendation that we buy some airtime to make sure that the Pakistani people would hear the president's messages and the secretary's messages, so we did purchase some time, is my understanding, on Pakistani TV stations, all of the stations."
"This was a short message," she added, and "includes the U.S. seal to make it clear that it's official, and it also includes a notice that the ads were paid."
The U.S. Embassy of Pakistan posted the video on its Facebook page, where the apology is getting mixed reviews. While over 3,000 people like the video on Facebook, the 1,600 or so comments have a decidedly different tone, with many demanding that U.S. turn over the film's creators. "Obama then hand over him to a Muslim country ... we will deal him according to Islamic rules," wrote one. "People are violent and attacking your embassies because you did not take action against that man. Just handover that man to Muslims for a trial that 's it things will cool down," wrote another.