U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim elected to Congress, issued a statement Wednesday condemning the fatal attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt, as well as the film that provoked them.
Ellison, a Democrat, said he was “deeply disturbed” by the attacks, which left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. “My heart goes out to their families,” he said, “they were brave public servants working tirelessly to improve relations with Egypt, Libya, and the rest of the world. This is a tragic loss.”
Ellison also decried “the amateurish and stupid video” that he said sparked the riots. He called the film, written and produced now-in-hiding anti-Islam filmmaker Sam Bacile,  “deeply offensive not only to Muslims but also to anyone who respects the faith of others.”
“It was designed to provoke,” Ellison said, “and sadly, the provocateurs successfully induced some people to take the bait. Instead of ignoring or peacefully condemning the film, they resorted to violence and mayhem.”
Despite the provocation, Ellison said, “responding with violence is never justified.”
(Update: Ellison’s Republican opponent, Chris Fields, has issued a statement echoing Mitt Romney’s criticism of President Obama, suggesting that condemning the “stupid video” that led up to the attacks amounts to an expression of sympathy or an apology for the attackers.
To Fields, Ellison’s statement “indicates that he believes American values were the chief instigator of this violent attack.”
Fields statement did not address Ellison’s remarks -- or Obama's -- saying there is no justification for the violence that led to the deaths of four Americans.)


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