Cairo gets ugly on 9/11
Update: An even more violent attack has taken place against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which has been struck with rocket-propelled grenades, and is reportedly on fire. At least one American is said to have been killed in the attack.
Update: The Wall Street Journal tracked down the creator of the film that touched off this protest: “The movie was written, directed and produced by Sam Bacile,a 52-year-old developer from Southern California who said that he wanted to showcase his view of Islam as a hateful religion. ‘Islam is a cancer,’ Mr. Bacile said in a telephone interview from his home.” The film reportedly got two thumbs up from Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who wanted to burn a Koran.
Update: Good news – embassy officials also said, via Twitter, that they condemn the “unjustified breach” of the embassy compound too. The denunciation of the film that set off the protesters is said to have been initially released this morning, shortly before the assault on the compound occurred. But the embassy staff says they stand by that denunciation, which they characterize as a stand against “bigotry,” while describing the assault on the compound as a “demonstration.”
Update: The U.S. Embassy has released a strong statement of condemnation… but they condemned the filmmakers, not the Islamist mob that attacked our embassy and destroyed an American flag on 9/11: “The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
Good Lord. They actually responded to an assault on the U.S. Embassy by condemning free speech and siding with the people who tore up the flag, because it’s understandable their feelings were hurt. [Correction - see above - the denunciation of the film promoters "abusing" free speech to hurt the Islamists' feelings is said to have been issued before the attack.]
The “Arab Spring” seems to have turned a bit sour in Cairo, where a mob of “ultraconservative Islamist protesters climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Egypt’s capital Tuesday and brought down the flag, replacing it with a black flag with an Islamic inscription to protest a video attacking Islam’s prophet, Muhammad,” according to the Associated Press.
Really, AP? “Ultraconservative?” They repeat this again later in the report, referring to the “ultraconservative Salafi movement.”
At any rate, the crowd couldn’t even hold the American flag together long enough to burn it, instead tearing it to shreds in their rage. The flag they replaced it with says “There is no God but God and Mohammed is his prophet,” which is said to be “similar to the banner used by al-Qaeda.” That doesn’t sound very promising.
The film in question is of uncertain origins, but it’s being promoted by Morris Sadek, an “Egyptian-born Christian in the U.S. known for his anti-Islam views.” The Associated Press doesn’t specify whether that makes him “ultraconservative” or not. Sadek says the film is meant to highlight the plight of the Coptic Christians, who are not being treated well in post-Mubarak Egypt. Another Coptic group denounced the video, describing it as “inciting the people against Copts” and saying his organization refuses “any attacks on religions because of a moral position.”
It would be great if they could get the Salafis to join them in disdaining such attacks. It’s kind of weird that the Salafis decided to storm the U.S. embassy, tear down the Stars and Stripes, and demand the removal of the American ambassador as an act of film criticism, since Egypt is all fixed up and America’s international prestige has supposedly reached soaring heights around the globe. Couldn’t the embassy have dispersed the protestors by playing Obama’s famous Cairo speech through its loudspeakers? Why aren’t these guys impressed by the death of bin Laden?
ABC News of Australia says State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland “dismissed the idea that feelings against the United States among Egyptians were hardening, especially after a visit by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton in July was met by some demonstrations.” Why is that notion prevalent enough to require dismissal, after the great foreign policy triumph of Egypt?