Washington, D.C.– Interfaith Alliance president Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy issued the following statement today following news of uprisings in Libya and Egypt that resulted in the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three members of his staff.

Our deepest condolences go out to the family, co-workers and friends of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and his three colleagues. The tragic news of their killing in connection to the uprising that took place yesterday in Libya is a sad end to what was by all accounts an exemplary career. That this happened on September 11 only compounds the tragedy.

Violence cannot be the basis for dialogue between the U.S. and the Arab world, and improved relations will be difficult until that is understood. At the same time, the anti-Muslim bigotry that has become all too pervasive in the United States is only amplified when it reaches the rest of the world and runs the risk of being perceived as the view of all Americans. That misconception is then used by those who seek to target Americans as a means of stirring up hatred among their followers.

The hateful film used as justification for this violence is of little relevance to the vast majority of Americans and certainly does not represent the views of the U.S. government. It is no excuse for yesterday’s violence, but Libya is a nation that is emerging from years of dictatorship where the mere existence of a film can be mistakenly understood to have the endorsement of the state in which it was created. Those responsible for these deaths must be brought to justice and going forward anger should be expressed through means that lead to productive dialogue.

Interfaith Alliance is a network of people of diverse faiths and beliefs from across the country working together to build a resilient democracy and fulfill America’s promise of religious freedom and civil rights not just for some, but for all. We mobilize powerful coalitions to challenge Christian nationalism and religious extremism, while fostering a better understanding of the healthy boundaries between religion and government. We advocate at all levels of government for an equitable and just America where the freedoms of belief and religious practice are protected, and where all persons are treated with dignity and have the opportunity to thrive. For more information visit interfaithalliance.org.