Muslim mobs kill ambassador, storm embassy

Flag of Egypt. What happened in Egypt is a metaphor for American policy failures in the Middle East.
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Yesterday, Muslim street mobs scaled the wall of the United States Embassy in Cairo and attacked and burned the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya. The mob even killed the US Ambassador to Libya when he came to get his employees out of the mission. And US officials stunned the world—by apologizing to the mobs.

Muslim mobs go wild

Three reports came in from Fox News. Reports also came in from USA Today, The New York Times, The New York Daily News, Times of Israel, The Atlantic, and Reuters (via Yahoo!). The Muslim mob in Cairo, Egypt, struck first, during local night. Some sources say that Ambassador Anne W. Patterson, or at least one member of her staff, knew in advance that a riot might start and kept only a skeleton crew at the embassy. Protesters scaled the wall, tore down the American flag (and burned it later), and raised a black flag with this classic Muslim slogan in Arabic:

There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger.

An Egyptian blogger noted pro-Al-Qaeda chants and published several photos.

Flag of Egypt. A Muslim mob in that country started a wave of attack against American diplomats.

Flag of Egypt

What was this protest all about? Earlier this year, an Israeli Jew named Sam Bacile released a new film titled either Innocence of Muslims or Mohammed, the Movie. (The film seems to have different titles in different regions.) He uploaded a 14-minute trailer to his own YouTube channel. (See the first embed below.) The trailer says a lot about Mohammed, his many wives, and his child wife Aisha. It also shows Muslims rioting, looting, and pillaging Christian-owned businesses, while police do nothing until the mobs have done their incendiary, and often bloody, work.

Some unknown person made an unauthorized version of the trailer with Arabic subtitles and/or dubbing. CNAV cannot tell whether the unauthorized duplicator translated the dialogue correctly or not. The second clip shows a scene from that altered trailer and how it played on Egyptian television.

Witnesses heard members of the Muslim mob yelling at Americans to, in effect, control speech, ban the film, and presumably to arrest Bacile. A Muslim government would do that. The United States government does not do that. (Yet.) The third and fourth clips show the mob scaling the embassy wall.

Uncannily, the embassy, in a press release, apologized to the Muslim mob:

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 White House repudiated that statement later.

A dead ambassador

The Libyan attack was worse. The Muslim mob in Benghazi set fire to the US Mission in that city, and killed at least one employee. Ambassador Chris Stevens and a party of three drove to Benghazi to take charge of getting the rest of the mission staff out. Someone fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the ambassador’s car. The ambassador and all his party died in the attack. And at 8:30 a.m. EDT today, the embassy page still did not reflect mourning or even any acknowledgement that the ambassador had died.

Sam Bacile went into hiding after the first man at the Benghazi mission lost his life. He refuses to apologize for making the film.

The world reacts

The Presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney hadn’t planned to say anything political yesterday. That changed when the first consular employee died and the Cairo embassy sent the press release apologizing for freedom of speech. Romney took exception to that:

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.

Naturally, the Obama campaign took exception to that.

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.

Today, of course, we deal with a dead ambassador, not a dead consular employee. (Some reports say that the ambassador was the first person to die, not that the ambassador and his consular employee were two different persons.) Mitt Romney said this morning, in Jacksonville, FL, that the Cairo embassy press release “shows the mixed signals coming from this administration.”

The administration’s tone seems to have changed overnight. But before then, Bruce Hirschensohn, a former Nixon-era diplomat, spoke more forcefully in a morning interview:

These are acts of war. Your embassy should be as safe as your living room.

Any country’s embassy is part of that country’s territory. International law always treats it as such. This is why Iran and the US are technically at war, a war that began when a Muslim mob stormed and occupied the US embassy in Teheran and took fifty-two Americans hostage.