In the latest controversial move in the US Embassy in Cairo’s ongoing Twitter saga, the Embassy removed its Twitter account for a few hours on Tuesday after the Embassy tweeter got into a fight with the Egyptian president’s account. Mohammed Morsi, president of Egypt, has presided over an assault on the country’s independent judiciary; the judiciary recently filed claims against Egyptian stand-up comedian Basem Yousef for “insulting Islam” and making fun of Morsi. This prompted Jon Stewart to do a segment on tyranny in Egypt. And the US Embassy official Twitter account then tweeted out that segment. The Egyptian Presidency’s account then tweeted, “It’s inappropriate for a diplomatic mission to engage in such negative political propaganda.”
Which, of course, is the problem with Egypt’s current government. They can’t take criticism. They instead push for the arrest of those who oppose them.
So, how did the Cairo embassy respond to this tiff? They removed their Twitter account, reinstating it only after the media caught on and the State Department asked for it to be reinstated. Meanwhile, while the US Embassy shilly-shallied around its own positions on freedom of speech, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood doubled down, posting a response to the Stewart video with another video about how Jews control the American media.
For once, the US Embassy in Cairo did the right thing in defense of free speech. Then they ran, as they once did from a YouTube video on Islam. Only this time, afraid of controversy, they reinstated their original account thanks to public awareness of the issue. In America, at least, the press remains free enough to point out obvious violations of freedom of speech around the globe – even if the press does that far too infrequently.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the New York Times bestseller “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).