(Photo: REUTERS/Esam Al-Fetori)
Human rights watchdog Open Doors USA has warned that the attacks that have taken place in the last 24-48 hours in Libya and Egypt as a result of an anti-Islamic film promoted by a Florida minister will lead to further marginalization of Christians in the Middle East and Northern Africa.
"[The violence] illustrates how hot the fuel is that one spark ignites it so suddenly," Open Doors spokesman Michael Wood said in a statement emailed to The Christian Post.
"[…] it is the unpredictable momentum that suddenly creates a wave of protests and anger. Many of the Muslim fanatics link the U.S. with Christianity. So that puts believers in these hot spots such as Libya and Egypt directly in the line of fire," Wood added, noting that only 10 percent of Egypt's population is Christian, while there also exists a very small community of Christians in Libya.
Wood concluded his statement by requesting prayers that the violence over the "Innocence of Muslims" film, deemed offensive by some Muslims, does not spread to other countries in the Middle East and North Africa.
The World Evangelical Alliance has also issued a statement encouraging Christians to stand with Muslims in discouraging both the violence and religious intolerance which have stemmed from the short film.
"We stand shoulder to shoulder with our Christian brothers and sisters in countries with Muslim majority populations in condemning both the video and the violence that has followed its publication," the WEA said in a statement.
Over 2,000 Muslim protesters reacted violently to "Innocence of Muslims," which was previewed online by controversial Florida Christian pastor Terry Jones on Sept. 11 as a part of his annual "International Judge Mohammed Day."
The 14-minute film was written and directed by Israeli-American filmmaker San Bacile, who is based in San Diego, Calif., and is reportedly in hiding. Bacile, 52, told the Wall Street Journal that "Islam is a cancer."
"Innocence of Muslims," which allegedly insults the prophet Muhammad, caused angry protesters to storm the U.S. embassies in Cairo and Benghazi on Sept. 11. Four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed at the Benghazi Embassy.
Although initial reports indicated that protesters had killed the American U.S. workers using a firebomb in an impromptu attack, U.S. officials are now suggesting that the death of Stevens and the others was the result of a planned attack by the militant faction Ansar al Sharia, as well as terrorist group Al-Qaeda's North Africa-based affiliate.
Additionally, one U.S. official told CNN that Ambassador Stevens and the other three Americans killed died of smoke inhalation.
"Folks inside were fighting the fire inside and the attackers outside. It was a cascading casualty, and Amb. Chris Stevens and the others got separated trying to escape to the roof of the building, ultimately succumbing to smoke inhalation," the U.S. official told CNN's Jill Dougherty.
"There will be more details as we go forward, but there were several valiant attempts to re-enter the burning building to find and save the ones we lost. Valiant but unsuccessful," the official added.
Jones is the senior pastor of the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla. He has made headlines numerous times in the past by publicly burning the Quran, which lead to riots in the Middle East that resulted in the deaths of 10 U.N. staffers in 2011.