The ads, featuring President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, were airing on seven networks in Pakistan even as mobs tried to rush the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad housing the U.S. Embassy and other embassies Thursday
Trying to blunt protests surrounding the YouTube film trailer that mocks the Prophet Muhammad, the Obama administration paid $70,000 to buy ads on Pakistani television disavowing the video, the State Department said Thursday.
The ads, featuring President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, were airing on seven networks even as mobs tried to rush the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad housing the U.S. Embassy and other embassies Thursday. Pakistani police kept about 2,000 protesters at bay.
The ads and a broader effort to solicit and promote pro-U.S. testimonials on YouTube are an effort by the State Department and the Obama administration to counter the pervasive view in Pakistan and other Muslim-majority nations that the crude video is either the work of the U.S. government or is condoned by it.
Anti-American sentiment runs high in Pakistan, and suspicion of U.S. motives runs deep.
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“The sense was that this particular aspect of the president and the secretary’s message needed to be heard by more Pakistanis than had heard it,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
The television messages resemble political ads. It is unusual but not unprecedented to air such messages overseas. The seven Pakistani networks have a potential audience of 90 million people, Nuland said.
Pakistan abruptly declared a holiday Friday that senior Pakistani officials said was an attempt to defuse protests that often follow Friday prayer services. U.S. diplomatic offices will be closed.
The U.S. ad includes footage of Obama and Clinton making statements after last week’s attack on a U.S. diplomatic post in Libya that killed four Americans.
“Since our founding, the United States has been a nation of respect, that respects all faiths. We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” Obama says in the ad, which is stamped “paid content.”
Clinton then adds a categorical denial of any official U.S. involvement in producing the “Innocence of Muslims” video.
“We absolutely reject its contents,” she says.
Subway ads: An ad that equates Muslim radicals with savages is set to go up in New York City’s subway system. Conservative blogger Pamela Geller won a court order to post the ad in 10 subway stations next Monday. The ad has been on San Francisco city buses in recent weeks, and Geller said she has filed suit to force the Washington, D.C., transit system to post the ad.
Material from The Associated Press is included in this report.