EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton has strongly condemned the wave of violent attacks against western diplomatic missions across the Muslim world.
"I condemn in the strongest terms the attacks against diplomatic missions in several countries which are part of a wave of violence and have now led to the loss of lives and destruction of property in several cities," Ashton said in a statement on Friday. "I want to state very clearly that there can be no justification for such violence. I condemn those who use religion to fuel extremism."
"I am following the unfolding of events with grave concern and call on national authorities in all countries concerned to swiftly ensure the security of diplomatic missions and protect diplomatic staff. It is vitally important that leaders across the affected regions should call immediately for peace and restraint, as has already been the case in many countries. I call on all governments and the religious and secular leaders to promote tolerance and dialogue," she said.
The violence was also condemned by the President of the European Parliament Martin Shulz. In a statement issued on Saturday, he said: "I strongly condemn this unjustified violence and those who fuel it. I strongly condemn the use of religion to incite hatred and violence. In the same manner, I strongly denounce any attempt to ridicule Islam. People and leaders must not mistake the deeds of isolated hateful individuals with the policies of states and institutions."
On Thursday, speaking in Brussels after talks with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso condemned the attacks on the US diplomatic mission in Benghazi, which caused the death of four Americans, including the US Ambassador: "There can be no justification for violence and for the loss of innocent lives. We call on the Libyan authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure such events not reoccur and of course to protect the diplomatic missions."
"At the same time," he added, "let me also recall that European Union consistently condemns those uses of religion to fuel extremism. I have the deepest respect for Islam and for all religious beliefs. It is not acceptable the kind of attacks we have been seeing against Islam or any other religion. Freedom of expression should not be confounded with the propagation of hate, of intolerance or of prejudice. And I want also to condemn on the strongest terms these manifestations of hate that sometimes we see against religions or against any other human beings. Having said this it is clear there is never a justification for killing innocent people."