We have seen Islamic leaders put out death orders on novelists, mass rioting because of cartoons, murders of artists, and now: attacks on our embassy in Egypt and consulate in Libya because of… a movie.
The protest was sparked by outrage over a video being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the U.S., clips of which are available on the social website YouTube and dubbed in Egyptian Arabic. The video depicts Muhammad as a fraud, showing him having sex and calling for massacres. Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad in any fashion, much less in an insulting way. The 2005 publication of 12 caricatures in a Danish newspaper triggered riots in many Muslim countries.
What started as a protest escalated into an attack on our embassy:
Dozens of protesters scaled the embassy walls, went into the courtyard and took down the flag from a pole. They brought it back to the crowd outside, which tried to burn it, but failing that, tore it apart. The protesters on the wall then raised on the flagpole a black flag with the Muslim declaration of faith on it, “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his prophet.”
The flag, similar to the banner used by al Qaeda, is commonly used by ultraconservatives around the region. Almost all the embassy staff had left the compound before the protest, and the ambassador was out of town.
This is another major setback for true Democracy in Egypt. The hopeful part of me thinks this is just Egypt’s growing pains on the path to a Liberal government. The pessimist in me thinks this shows how that Islam is so intertwined in Egyptian society that they will never have the separation of church and state.
Democracy is sometimes frustrating, something that religious fanatics have trouble dealing with. Part of living in a free society is dealing with being offended. Its the price we pay for freedom. Civilization requires we engage people civilly, not kill them for offending us.