Middle East

US military chief asks pastor to reject inflammatory film

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey salutes during the playing of the national anthem at a ceremony commemorating the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on September 11, 2012 at the Pentagon in Washington. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN

WASHINGTON: The US military's top officer has urged a controversial Christian pastor to disavow a film that has ignited violent protests over its portrayal of the Islamic faith, a spokesman said Wednesday.

A day after a deadly assault on the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi possibly sparked by the movie, General Martin Dempsey made a direct appeal to Pastor Terry Jones to reject the film to defuse tensions.

"In the brief call, Gen. Dempsey expressed his concerns over the nature of the film, the tensions it will inflame and the violence it will cause," his spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said in an email.

"He asked Mr Jones to consider withdrawing his support for the film," he said.

The attack in Benghazi killed the US ambassador to Libya and three colleagues, while at least five other Americans were wounded, officials said.

Pentagon officials worry the outrage caused by the amateur, American-made film -- which mocks Islam's revered prophet Mohammed -- could spark violence in Afghanistan and endanger troops in NATO's US-led force there.

Jones has repeatedly denounced Islam and has presided over the burning of the Koran. Former defense secretary Robert Gates placed a phone call to Jones in 2010 asking him to drop plans to burn the Islamic holy book.

Jones relented but his threatened plan sparked deadly protests in Islamic countries. He later went ahead and torched the Koran in 2011, which prompted more violent reaction in Afghanistan.





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