Belmont Club

Giving Offense

Details have emerged about the movie which allegedly sparked two attacks on US diplomatic installations in the Middle East.

A movie attacking Islam’s prophet Muhammad sparked assaults on U.S. diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt on Tuesday. A Libyan security official reported an American was shot to death as protesters burned the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, and in Cairo, protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy walls and replaced an American flag with an Islamic banner. …

Sam Bacile, an American citizen who said he produced, directed and wrote the two-hour film, said he had not anticipated such a furious reaction.

“I feel sorry for the embassy. I am mad,” Bacile said.

Speaking from a telephone with a California number, Bacilesaid he is Jewish and familiar with the region. Bacile said the film was produced in English and he doesn’t know who dubbed it in Arabic. The full film has not been shown yet, he said, and he said he has declined distribution offers for now.

“My plan is to make a series of 200 hours” about the same subject, he said.

Morris Sadek, an Egyptian-born Christian in the U.S. known for his anti-Islam views, told The Associated Press from Washington that he was promoting the video on his website and on certain TV stations, which he did not identify.

Both depicted the film as showing how Coptic Christians are oppressed in Egypt, though it goes well beyond that to ridicule Muhammad – a reflection of their contention that Islam as a religion is inherently oppressive.

Down with Bacile! It is of course not true that Islam is oppressive. The attacks on the US diplomatic installation show how far this is from the truth. A State Department spokesperson explained that the attacks viewed from a certain perspective are really a good thing.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland cautioned reporters not to assume that the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today reflected growing anti-American sentiment among the Egyptian people …

Nuland pointed out that such protests are only possible because dictator Hosni Mubarak was thrown out of power. “So obviously, one of the things about the new Egypt is that protest is possible,” she told reporters. “Obviously we all want to see peaceful protest, which is not what happened outside the U.S. mission, so we’re trying to restore calm now. But I think the bigger picture is one of the United States supporting Egypt’s democratic transition and the Egyptian Government very much welcoming and working with us on the support that we have to offer.”

The health of democracy in the Islamic world is expressed in the new willingness to burn US embassies and consulates. But to produce a YouTube video bemoaning the fate of the Copts not so much. The people who really don’t understand how Democracy works are Americans. The US Embassy in Cairo issued this statement decrying the propensity to give offense to the Islamic world.

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.

We Are Outraged At Our Countrymen

The real driver behind these attacks is unlikely to have been some obscure YouTube video which drove thousands of ordinary Muslims in two separate countries somehow to attack two diplomatic establishments. The timing and similarity of the attacks suggest they were planned. The “offense” was whatever came conveniently to hand.

The real incitement is the palpable weakness and the groveling attitude the administration has displayed toward Islamic radicals. There seems to be no apology they will not make, no accomodation they will not attempt, no payoff they will not undertake, no confession they will not blurt out in an effort to appease.!

The Obama administration has disavowed the statement of the American embassy in Cairo. Note to readers: it was on the US Embassy website, see the screencap above.

The White House is disavowing a statement from its own Cairo embassy that apologized for anti-Muslim activity in the United States.

“The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government,” a senior administration official told POLITICO.

The U.S. embassy in Cairo put out a statement early Tuesday that apologized for an anti-Muslim film being circulated by an Israeli-American real estate developer.

The US consulate in Benghazi, Libya is now reported to be looted and burned.

In the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, a large mob stormed the U.S. Consulate, with gunmen firing their weapons, said Wanis al-Sharef, an Interior Ministry official in Benghazi. A witness said attackers fired automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at the consulate as they clashed with Libyans hired to guard the facility.

Outnumbered by the crowd, Libyan security forces did little to stop them, al-Sharef said.

The crowd overwhelmed the facility and set fire to it, burning most of it and looting the contents, witnesses said.

The New York Times says “Anger Over a Film Fuels Anti-American Attacks in Libya and Egypt”.

A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, the mainstream Islamist group and the sponsors of Egypt’s first elected president, Mohamed Morsi, urged the United States government on Tuesday to prosecute the “madmen” behind the video, according to the English-language Web site of the state newspaper, Al Ahram.

The spokesman asked for a formal apology from the United States government and warned that events like the video were damaging Washington’s relations with the Muslim world. He also emphasized that any protests should remain peaceful and respect property.

There should be “civilized demonstrations of the Egyptian people’s displeasure with this film,” the Brotherhood spokesman said, according to the Web site. “Any nonpeaceful activity will be exploited by those who hate Islam to defame the image of Egypt and Muslims.”

The American Embassy had released a statement shortly after noon that appeared to refer to Mr. Jones: “The United States Embassy 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,” it said. “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.”

That statement has been reportedly disavowed, but time will tell whether the apology demanded by the Islamists may not be reinstated in some way.

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