Worked up over YouTube videos depicting Mohammad in an unflattering light, Islamists in Cairo attacked the United States embassy in Cairo today. They seized and burned the American flag while trying to replace it with a black flag bearing the inscription: “There is no god but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger.”
Hey, message received. The embassy issued the following statement:
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
State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland lacked a firmer grip on the situation, even though she was on a podium in Foggy Bottom:
“I would urge you not to draw too many conclusions as we have also had some very positive developments in our relationship with Egypt,” Ms. Nuland said.
“Obviously one of the things about the new Egypt is that protest is possible. Obviously we all want to see peaceful protest which is not what happened outside the US 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.”
ABC reports this touching detail that may well be more truly representative of the transition in Egypt:
Women wearing the niqab, the full-face veil worn by hardline Islamists, joined the rally chanting: “Sons of the Cross, anything but our beloved Mohammed.”
The videos were reportedly the work of Egyptian Copt expatriates and thus the reference to “Sons of the Cross.”
ABC also reports the comment of an Egyptian activist, who seems to have a better handle than the American diplomats:
Egyptian activist Wael Ghoneim wrote on his Facebook page that “attacking the US embassy on September 11 and raising flags linked to Al Qaeda will not be understood by the American public as a protest over the film about the prophet. Instead, it will be received as a celebration of the crime that took place on September 11,” he said.
Even discounting the echoes of 1980, I’m afraid Ghoneim may be a tad optimistic in the Age of Obama. But we’ll see.
UPDATE: This can’t be: “RPGs fired on US consulate in Benghazi.”