An internet film made by an Israeli American real estate developer from California and promoted by Koran-burning pastor Terry Jones of Florida has sparked violent protests in Egypt and Libya. An attack on the Libyan embassy in Benghazi yesterday killed the US ambassador and three others.
Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens was killed Tuesday night when he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate to try to evacuate staff. The protesters, angry over a film that ridiculed Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, were firing gunshots and rocket propelled grenades. All of the officials — three in all — hold senior security positions in Benghazi.
The President condemned the violence.
“I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens,” President Obama said in a statement Tuesday morning. “Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America’s commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.”
In Egypt, protestors climbed the embassy walls in Cairo and tore down the American flag. It was replaced with one exalting Muhammad. Mitt Romney seized upon the mayhem and death to criticize the Obama administration.
“I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi,” he said. “It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”
Romney was referring to the Egyptian consulate’s response to the growing controversy before the violence broke out. They “condemn[ed] the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” GOP chairman Reince Priebus similarly attacked the president, albeit personally. Priebus charged that Obama “symapathize[d]“ with the Egyptian rioters.
Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt.Sad and pathetic.
— Reince Priebus (@Reince) September 12, 2012
The Obama campaign shot back, calling the Republican criticism ugly politics:
“We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack,” Obama’s campaign press secretary Ben LaBolt said in a statement.
The “movie” that started this mess is essentially anti-Muslim trash. It’s a low-budget green-screen affair that portrays Muhammad as an idiot and his followers as homicidal child-molesting pagans.
The movie, “Innocence of Muslims,” was directed and produced by an Israeli-American real-estate developer who characterized it as a political effort to call attention to the hypocrisies of Islam.
At least some of the movie, when it’s not calling Muslims gay donkeys, is sympathetic to Egyptian Coptics. After clips of it were dubbed into Arabic and redistributed online, the protests began.