By Peter Schroeder - 09/15/12 10:00 AM EDT
President Obama hailed the work of four Americans killed in Libya this week, while promising a vigorous and unrelenting effort to bring their killers to justice.
In his weekly address released Saturday, the president said the four killed, including Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, "represented the very best of our country."
"Without people like them, America could not sustain the freedoms we enjoy, the security we demand, and the leadership that the entire world counts on," he said.
"As we mourn their loss, we must also send a clear and resolute message to the world: those who attack our people will find no escape from justice," he said. "We will not waver in their pursuit. And we will never allow anyone to shake the resolve of the United States of America."
Obama's address comes as U.S. and other Western embassies have become the target of protests, many violent, across a number of nations in the Middle East and Africa. In addition to the violence in Libya, protests have emerged in Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia and Yemen after clips of a film mocking the Prophet Muhammad were released online.
On Friday, the president attended a Transfer of Remains Ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, where the bodies of those Americans killed in Libya were returned to U.S. soil.
The protests in the Middle East have also dominated the presidential race this week, as GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign criticized the administration response to the violence, suggesting that the White House has failed to stand up to Islamist movements in the region.
The president vowed in his remarks that the U.S. was doing all it could to protect Americans serving abroad. He also insisted efforts to denigrate particular religions do no mesh with American values, even as he said violence is never an appropriate response.
"We stand for religious freedom. And we reject the denigration of any religion – including Islam," he said. "Yet there is never any justification for violence. There is no religion that condones the targeting of innocent men and women....And so long as I am Commander-in-Chief, the United States will never tolerate efforts to harm our fellow Americans."
The president closed by asking Americans to renew their resolve to the nation's values.
"Let us never forget that for every angry mob, there are millions who yearn for the freedom, and dignity, and hope that our flag represents. That is the cause of America," he said. "We know that our spirit cannot be broken, and the foundation of our leadership cannot be shaken."