CORRECTION: The U.S. Embassy’s apology was issued before the protests, at approximately noon Cairo time. Despite the statement, protesters stormed the embassy five hours later.
After an angry mob stormed the U.S. embassy in Cairo and tore down the American flag, the embassy apologized for provoking the mob and condemned the free speech back across the Atlantic which hurt the mob’s feelings.
Egyptian demonstrators climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today and pulled down the American flag to protest a film they say is insulting to the prophet Mohammad.
Reuters reports that protesters tried to raise a black flag carrying the slogan: “There is no god but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger.”
The news agency says about 2,000 protesters have gathered outside the embassy and about 20 have scaled the walls.
The AP says the protesters were largely ultra-conservative Islamists.
Iran’s FARS news agency says the film is the work of a group of “extremist” members of the Egyptian Coptic Church in the United States.
Al Ahram online says the film is reportedly being produced by U.S.-based Coptic-Christian Egyptians, including Esmat Zaklama and Morees Sadek, with the support of the Terry Jones Church in the United States.
Jones is the evangelical pastor who stirred controversy last year by threatening to burn a Quran in public.
CNN says the film in question is a Dutch production.
In place of the U.S. flag, the protesters tried to raise a black flag with the words “There is no God but God, and Mohammad is his messenger”, a Reuters witness said.
Once the U.S. flag was hauled down, some protesters tore it up and showed off pieces to television cameras. Others burned the remains outside the fortress-like embassy building in central Cairo. But some protesters objected to the flag burning.
Many Muslims consider any depiction of the Prophet to be offensive.
It seems Islamists in Egypt are confusing an abuse of free speech with the non-existent right to not be offended. From Reuters:
Although it was not clear which film prompted the protests …
They’re not even sure why they’re storming the walls.
Our own embassy responded by lying prostrate before the fundamentalists who are enacting their Theo Van Gogh brand of bullying:
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
The theocratic basis of their new government has absolutely no affect on our freedom of speech, which says that if someone wants to put a cross in a jar of urine and call it “art,” they have the right to do so. It’s the freedom of expression which we are granted by our Constitution, and a foreign entity’s dogmatic interpretation of what is or is not free speech as it relates to their religion is wholly irrelevant. That our foreign embassy would pull a President Obama and bow to the demands of fundamentalists who find no offense in murder over religion — fundamentalists who backed the extremist Muslim Brotherhood candidate that this administration endorsed — is antithetical to our freedoms.
Of course, this is from an administration who endorsed Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s new leading political party who not only fosters an abuse of women, oppression of Coptic Christians, murder of gays for existing, and crucifixion of political opponents and will be welcoming their leader, President Morsi, to Washington D.C. this month.