Romney Poses, as Militants Burn Benghazi Consulate, killing Ambassador, 3 staffers, & Demonstrate in Cairo, over Islamophobic Film

Predictably, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tried to make political hay of the tiny demonstrations in Cairo and Benghazi by Muslim militants. The Benghazi mob turned violent in clashes with police and the consulate ended up being burned and an embassy staffer is said to have been the US ambassador and three staffers were killed.

Romney seized on the frantic tweets of the Cairo embassy issued *before the attacks*, which condemned the sleazy Youtube videos by American Islamophobes that had provoked the ire of the crowds, as evidence that the Obama administration was siding with the attacking mobs. First of all, really? Romney is trying to get elected on the back of a dead US diplomat? Second of all, really? He thinks the State Department thought the attack on themselves was justified? Third of all, really? Romney is selective. When it comes to Christianity, Romney decries a ‘war on religion.’ But apparently he thinks there *should* be a war on Islamic religion. (Except that Romney himself condemned Terry Jones’s Qur’an burning a couple of years ago.) Romney’s intervention (he is just a civilian at the moment) in American foreign policy is unwise and risky, not to mention distasteful.

The victory in the Libyan elections of nationalist rather than fundamentalist forces, and the rise to power in Egypt of the relatively moderate Muslim Brotherhood has marginalized the militant strain of Muslim activism, known coloquially as ‘jihadis’ because of their emphasis on vigilante violence. The vigilante fundamentalists were small but dangerous groups in Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya and in Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, and both governments reacted by attacking them and arbitrarily imprisoning them.

The vigilante fundamentalists typically reject elections and democracy, as inauthentic Western imports, and they are headline whores, plotting out attention-grabbing mob actions. These jihadis are tiny groups in Egypt and Libya, though sometimes well-armed and well-trained.

You could make an analogy to the Ku Klux Klan in the United States, which just has perhaps 5,000 active members. But people like Wade Michael Page, who had applied for Klan membership, can make a media splash by simply shooting down people at e.g. a Sikh Temple.

One way the fundamentalist vigilantes can hope to combat their marginalization and political irrelevance in the wake of the Arab Spring is to manufacture a controversy that forces people to side with them. I suspect that is what they were doing in Egypt and Libya, in front of the US embassy in Cairo and at the rump consulate in Benghazi.

That the jihadis could not get bigger crowds up for their demonstrations suggests that they are seen as crackpots by their neighbors. In Libya, their actions may be a catalyst to the new prime minister, to be named today, to spearhead a concerted effort to build new police and army forces on a faster timetable than had the transitional national council. Secular and nationalist Libyans have already announced a peaceful demonstration against the violence at Martyrs’ Square in Benghazi for Wednesday afternoon. I doubt the incidents will have long-term political significance. The Neocons will say they are symptoms of the so-called ‘Islamic winter’ after the Arab Spring, but that is just a way of making sure Western youth don’t identify (as they did during Tahrir) with Arab youth, marking them as a fundamentalist and threatening Other. There isn’t any ‘Islamic winter’ in Libya, and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt just barely squeaked by to win the presidency against a secular candidate– hardly a landslide.

The pretext for the demonstrations/ attacks was a youtube film by Muslim-hater Sam Bacile, an Israeli-American ‘produced’ by provocateur Rev. Terry Jones, he of the Qur’an-burning fame. Things were made worse that two expatriate Coptic Christians are said to have been involved in the film. [Subsequent reporting revealed that “Sam Bacile” is a fiction and probably a cover identity for a Coptic Christian activist]. About ten percent of Egyptians are Christians, and the Muslim militants sometimes attack them. The Israeli right wing and its American supporters have a vested interest in driving a wedge between Americans and the Muslim world, since Muslims on the whole stand against the Israeli colonization of the Palestinian West Bank, the major project of the Israeli right wing. Good relations between the Muslim world and the United States might sway the latter to withdraw support for Israeli expansionism and aggression.

Although some of the Egyptian demonstrators may have, as Ashraf Khalil argues, sincerely thought that the films demeaning the Prophet Muhammad were being widely shown in American theaters on on television, I think the jihadis’ leadership cynically manufactured this ‘crisis’ in order to grab headlines and force the post-revolutionary governments to take a stand. If they stood with the Americans, they’d be guilty of blasphemy themselves. If they stood with the jihadis, they’d have surrendered some legitimacy to the latter. There is a third possibility, which is to deploy police or army against the vigilantes on grounds they had disturbed the peace, and simply declaring that the US embassy isn’t responsible for all the nonsense put up on Youtube.

In Egypt, the small crowd of 1500 just gathered outside the embassy walls (the Cairo embassy is a kind of fortress in the tony Garden City district). At one point they tore down an American flag flying outside the embassy grounds and ran up the black flag favored by militants. (Those black flags are freely sold in Tahrir Square and elsewhere, and aren’t necessarily al-Qaeda flags. They just denote militancy and a desire for a fundamentalist government). Al-Masry al-Yawm has photos.

In Benghazi, the crowd of militants that gathered at the consulate may have turned violent in response to police or army intervention. The consulate was just a building in which the US set up during the Libyan Revolution, when Benghazi was the rebel capital, and which they kept going as a consulate after they reopened the US embassy in Tripoli. I met with a consulate official in early June there, and she wasn’t even sure the US would keep the consulate open. The small crowd in Benghazi turned violent, and at least one of its members had a rocket propelled grenade launcher, which he either loosed against the police and missed, hitting the consulate, or which he targeted the consulate with deliberately. (Hard to know which). The consulate caught fire and burned to the ground, and in the chaotic violence, the ambassador and the three staffers were killed. The killings were vehemently condemned by the Libyan government, which pledged to punish the perpetrators.

Libya had parliamentary elections in July, in which the Muslim fundamentalists did poorly, with nationalists winning out. Some 20 percent of those elected were women. A couple of neighborhoods in Benghazi are known for their strident fundamentalism, and jihadis did not allow a couple of polling stations in the city to open (though the vast majority of the city voted).

There is a small militant cell in Benghazi that has some RPGs and grenades. They have attacked the Red Cross offices, a convoy of the British consulate, and set off a pipe bomb in front of the US consulate last month. Most people in Benghazi are appalled by these extremists. The collapse of the authoritarian government of Muammar Qaddafi has left Libya without much in the way of professional police and army, both of which have to be rebuilt as institutions functioning in a democratic republic rather than as narrow instruments of oppression, control and torture.

What happened in Benghazi was the action of a tiny fringe, sort of like Ku Klux Klan violence in the US. It isn’t typical of the new Libya, and Benghazi is not a lawless or militia-ridden city. One of the narratives of what happened there, in fact, is that the police may have been *too* heavy-handed in an attempt to curb the militants’ demonstration, provoking the latter to bring out their one RPG launcher.

The crowds both in Egypt and Libya were tiny. Their militancy is not typical of Egypt or Libya today, both of which are struggling toward more democratic forms of governance. In Cairo, there may have been a failure of policing; police in Egypt feel unfairly demonized because they had been seen as bulwarks of the Mubarak regime, and they often decline to show up to their jobs as a result of this low morale. This police foot-dragging has allowed an increase in petty crime, though Cairo is still far safer than most Western cities.

The government of Egypt is still pretty powerful, and will likely act to curb the militants, as it did in the Sinai recently. A merely fundamentalist president, Muhammad Morsi, probably cannot allow this challenge from the militants to pass. Moreover, this kind of thing is bad for tourism, a major part of the Egyptian economy, which had just begun improving this year after the turmoil of 2011.

On the other hand, there could be more trouble. The Egyptian Actors Guild announced an emergency meeting to study how to respond to the film smearing the Prophet. It may be that this obscure Youtube video could be taken unduly seriously even by the Egyptian mainstream.

69 Responses

  1. Dr. Cole, I’m sure that you wrote this before you knew that it was the actual ambassador of the United States of America who was murdered in Libya. I expect you understand that now, in order to be re-elected President of the United State, Obama will have to take drastic and severe actions against the Libyans and their government. Unless he does so, the Republicans will use this incident to portray him as “weak” in the face of the “Muslim threat.” For America, the “Arab Spring” is now officially over.

    • Really? With what – more drones that will target the extremists but accidentally kill innocents? An all-out war on Libya – whose extremism was once supported by our own government? I think that taking pause and assessing the situation with more gravitas (ie, who is really at fault – the MP/police force for instigating the violence?), and showing the world that, for once, we can react to a truly complex situation like responsible grown-ups.

    • Obama will have to take drastic and severe actions against the Libyans and their government.

      What are you TALKING about? Anti-government mob attacks American consulate; government forces fight to defend the consulate, but are overcome; anti-government extremists burn down embassy, kill the ambassador – and your conclusion is that the response will have to be against the government?

      That makes absolutely no sense. The Libyan government has condemned these murderers, and fought to stop them.

      I don’t think Barack Obama, the American public, or the American media are the ones failing to distinguish between the murderers and Libyans in general; I think that’s YOU doing that.

      • My only point was that the Republicans will seek to exploit this event–as they are already doing–and that the Obama Administration must be SEEN by the American public to take a very firm position regarding the shirked responsibilities of the Libyan Government. And I repeat it–they must.

        • Digbydoben: But the Republicans (well, at least Mitt and his troop of clowns) have already shot themselves in the foot on the merits of their own stupidity. Isn’t it more important for the world to see the President as a little more level-headed than the GOP, especially since the world is (rightly) furious at our foreign policy? We cannot let the GOP, extreme as it is, to dictate the standard by which we conduct foreign policy, if only for the simple reason that Mitt clearly has neither any understanding of history nor the slightest grasp on foreign policy.

        • Rmoney did try to exploit it. And he failed, massively. His smirk as he discussed the deaths of US diplomatic personnel has triggered universal disgust. Even the Republican mainstream is turning on him here.

          The Republican campaign for the Presidency died today. Or was murdered by the very same ham-handed halfwit who was supposed to be its prime beneficiary.

        • My only point was that the Republicans will seek…

          Ah, gotcha.

          This isn’t 1988. Nor is it 2002.

          The world doesn’t revolve around what Republicans say anymore, especially on foreign policy.

  2. Juan, given that we now know the US Ambassador to Libya and three other staffers were killed in the violence that destroyed the consulate do you still believe this will have no lasting diplomatic consequences for the region?

  3. This may not be a popular stance but the extremist zionist element has no other goal than to bring chaos into the muslim relm thus broadening the divide between the arab world and the west. This has always been their goal…problem is there is too much blind support for this element in the US…Isreal has gotten a pass for far too long!!

  4. An attack on an Embassy is an attack on our territory, and on conventions necessary for international relations. I am strongly opposed to intervention in the Middle East, but if they want our aid and support, they should apologize unconditionally, round up the perps, and pay compensation.

    • Apologize for what? Having the same enemies that we have?

      The LIbyan government did no wrong here. Libyans fought to defend the consulate, to defend Americans. The Libyan government is a loyal, decent, democratic ally. They stood with us, and we stand with them.

  5. Thank you for writing this piece, Juan. This has been the most level-headed piece I’ve read so far this morning. Your comparison of the small extremist factions in the ME with the KKK/neo-nazi groups here in the US is appropriate, and I truly hope it sheds light on the situation for many Americans oblivious to the real demographic structure of the region. :)

  6. The first thing that should have been stated immmediately by both presidential candidates are condolences to the families of these victims from the U.S. Foreign Service.

    I hope both Obama and Romney get around to doing this.

  7. As always, an insightful peak at reality. And as usual the (quite large) “militant” wing of the US political establishment, and its extremist followers, will launch a suitably sized tsunami to wash away any reality based tendencies.

  8. “Headline whores….You could make an analogy to the Ku Klux Klan in the United States”

    The first headline whore that came to my mind was Romney

  9. Thus far, the only reasonable responses to the attack on the US Embassy in Cairo and the attack on the US Consulate, and murder of the Ambassador and three other US diplomats in Benghazi, have come from Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama. Those that preceeded the Secretary’s and President’s comments were disingenuous and foolish. To wit:

    Mitt Romney’s initial, and subsequent doubling down on, comments, condemning the initial statement out of the US Embassy in Cairo, was playing politics at its most crude. He used a terrible situation, which called for support of the President, the US, and its diplomats, to try and turn the situation against the President.

    On the other hand, the initial statement out of our Embassy in Cairo, which condemned the Islamophobic film without condemning the mob attacking the Embassy, was equally despicable. It was the worst kind of pandoring to the mob. I imagine that whoever approved the statement will not see his future career flourish in the Foreign Service.

    • In case no one else has pointed this out yet… The Embassy’s condemnation of the film was issued BEFORE the mob violence.

      And if you take the 15 minutes needed to watch the film on You Tube, you will know why. “The Mohammed Movie” would pass for very badly made amateur farce in any other universe, and it would be impossible to believe anyone had made it with the intention that it would be taken seriously, except unfortunately we know that America has plenty of religious fanatics, just like Libya and Egypt do.

      Our religious fanatics burn Korans and make really bad You Tube videos like The Mohammed Movie (when they are not shooting up Sikh temples). As far as I am concerned, the blood of the 4 US citizens killed in Libya is on “Christian” “filmmaker” Sam Bacile’s hands.

      • Unfortunately, “‘Christian’ ‘filmmaker’ Sam Bacile” does not have the responsibility for protecting foreign embassies on Libya’s territory. The Government of Libya does, and the Government of Libya is partially responsible for what took place in their country. Obama MUST be seen to be holding it responsible in a quite forceful manner for what took place, if he is to be re-elected. The American people are no longer in a “restrained” mood regarding Islamic Fundamentalists.

        • So, by your logic, then the Obama administration should be held accountable for the shooting-up at the Sikh temple?

        • Your version of the “American people” exists only in your head.

          The American people are disgusted at a presidential candidate who gloats and grins over dead American diplomats. He’s crossed a line, and there is no way back.

      • It has not been established that the Embassy condemnation of the film occurred before the violence, but it was still pandoring to the mob, pre-, post-, or during the violence.

        Sam Bacile is an Israeli-American, not a “Christian” filmmaker. That would be the fundamentalist Terry Jones, who was behind its production, just as he was behind the Qur’an burning.

        Condemnation of this sorry episode is admirable, but it helps to get your facts straight.

        • All things considered, I believe the American staff of the embassy in Cairo were attempting to SAVE THEIR LIVES!

        • Speaking of facts not in evidence, here’s a timeline relative to the Cairo embassy statement that maybe one would like to look at, and maybe try to impeach and discount as just being from some “liberal” outlet. link to scpr.org And a comment that the US Embassy condemnation of that film, apparently issued “pre-violence,” was “pandoring (sic) to the mob, pre-, post-, or during the violence,” is not only illogical, it’s unutterably weak, in the colloquial sense.

          And as to whether “Sam Bacile” is an Israeli-American, or something else altogether, including a work of creative “Xtian” fiction, there’s this: link to scpr.org Details at 11?

          Need to always get the last word, and try to sow doubt and uncertainty in favor of the Neocon Narrative?

          And it’s hard to see what “American people” Digby is invoking with that assertion that they are “are no longer in a “restrained” mood regarding Islamic Fundamentalists” and are demanding that “Obama” hammer the new government of Libya.

        • It has been so “established.” The timeline of events is readily available.

          And what you call “pandoring” [sic] was a statement entirely in keeping with embassy protocol that has been practiced for years and years. Our (U.S.) embassies have a duty to emphasize that U.S. citizens who seek to foment religious hatred do not speak for the U.S. gov’t. *Any* half-attentive reading of the embassy’s message will support that this is exactly what they sought to do.

          Thank you fYes, it helps to get facts straight.

        • “Need to always get the last word, and try to sow doubt and uncertainty in favor of the Neocon Narrative?”

          Speaking of always having to get the last word…???

  10. Thank you. I so agree with you about our finally being able to react as grownups to complex situations. That is leadership.

  11. As a Jew, I am obviously disgusted with the video that Bacile made and his use of epidemiological language to condemn Islams. Obviously, I am not alone amongst my co-religionists. That being said, the same kind of material is regularly shown on STATE media networks in Arab countries, not just by some loon totally unaffiliated with the government. Juan may call what I’m saying playground ethics, but I think the attempt to somehow pin this on Jews/Israel is mistaken and inciduous.

  12. Now …”These jihadis are tiny groups in Egypt and Libya, though sometimes well-armed and well-trained.” Thanks to the Saudi and Qatar’s money, at the moment they are busy in Syria. Just wait a while they will be better trained, armed, and more confident that they are on the right path. We didn’t learn our lesson in 9/11. Sure the radicals are great for the short term gains (as they did against the Soviet Union), but sooner or later we have to send troops to hunt them.

  13. I think the biggest mistake we Americans can make right now is to react from a secular perspective. Religion has been a ridiculous excuse for terrible actions on every side since the begining of recorded history. Reacting from a religious perspective only justifies the original actions (as they believe they were reacting on a religious foundation). The RULE OF LAW (especially International Law) needs to be the motivating factor here, not religion. Three people were murdered and their murderers must be found and brought to trial for their actions. The U.S. may be justified in placing sanctions on the Libyan government to motivate them into action, but I’d argue that’s about the extent of justified reaction.

    Dr.(?) Cole makes a good argument that this was the act of a few militant fundamentalists. Not necessarily the organized terror act the mainstream media would like us to believe. But too many people want to say it’s our own fault for being there, or it’s our own fault for allowing a movie like this to be made, or so on. Guess what world, Americans in general trivialize religious figures constantly – just look at our language patterns! Look at imagery in so many movies that poke portry God or Jesus in various comedic ways. Should that justify Christian militant fundamentalists to go haywire and start killing people? Absolutely not.

    Rule of Law people. Murder is a crime. Hell, probably having the RPG in the crowd was a crime, too.

    • According to Prof. Cole’s bio on the University of Michigan site:

      “1984 Ph.D. Islamic Studies, University of California Los Angeles”

      So, yes, Dr. Cole. It’s sad that it’s so unusual to have someone who is actually knowledgeable and qualified by education and experience (Dr. Cole speaks Arabic) commenting on the Middle East.

  14. In the aftermath of Romney’s loss in the November 6 election, today will be referenced as a critical turning-point in his campaign. It will be compared to the melt-down that McCain suffered when the financial system was crashing during his campaign.
    No one can specifically predict what further implosive events will occur in the Romney/Ryan campaign but I expect that Ryan will “go rogue” at some point in the coming weeks. Right-wing radio rant-jockeys will stir up all kinds of silliness that will ultimately redound to the advantage of President Obama and help the democrats get out the vote. An already-unstable Reince Preibus will self-destruct in much the same way that Micheal Steele did four years ago. Republican fund-raising will decrease as “the base” falls out of love with its ticket. Down-ballot republicans will suffer consequences.
    I, for one, am eagerly looking forward to watching this unfold. I have little doubt that President Obama’s re-election is secure at this point.

    • In another post, Prof. Cole mentioned the idea that Romney had “jummped the shark”* with his response to another issue. Given his incompetent and pathetic response to this situation, I have to ask myself, “How many more times can Romney ‘jump the shark’?”

      Let’s say that setting up a televised event where Romney dons waterskis and jumps over a tank of sharks costs $2 million to produce. Well, Romney is worth about $250 million, and Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers are good for a few more hundred million, so, let’s say it’s 200 shark jumping events. If we have about 55 days left, then that’s a bit more than 4 shark jump events a day! Maybe they can get good enough for Rep. Ryan to sit on Romney’s shoulders as they jump over the tank of sharks!

      (* The phrase to ‘jump the shark’ comes from a turning point in the quality of the US TV sitcom “Happy Days.” For years it had been a beloved family comedy set in a small midwestern city in the 1950s. But the creators of the show were not able to maintain the quality, so in one episode, a character performs the stunt of jumping over a tank of sharks. That episode was seen as the turning point at which the quality of the show went down, and never recovered. Thus ‘jumping the shark’ means the moment at which the quality of some ongoing event fails.)

      • I was thinking after I read Juan’s main article and while I was watching Norm Coleman defend Romney against Nick Burns, an experienced diplomat that I have always found to be truthful, that the Republican Party has now jumped the shark.

    • Then you don’t understand the “great unwashed” of the Christian Fundamentalist Bible belt, for whom Romney’s disgusting exploitation of this event is “red meat.” Unless Obama is firm with the Libyans, he could stand to lose Florida, North Carolina and, perhaps, even Ohio, where these troglodytes have a large say in how those states vote.

  15. Sam Bacile, Rev. Terry Jones and alike in the U.S, are feeding a religious war in the ME and in the U.S. It is the same strategy that Al Qaeda and its affiliates are relentlessly pursuing. It is unfortunate that Mitt Romney is playing into the hands of all those who calls for and encourages religious wars in the U.S and else where.

  16. blowback

    this what happens when u back violent salafites, this is what happened in Afghanistan

    enjoy

    just wait until there done in syria

    u can enjoy even more blowback

    • Six and a half million Libyans are now free, living in a democracy.

      You think America is going to abandon people who stand up against dictators, because we’re scared?

      You don’t understand Americans.

  17. Regarding the myriad allegations about the backer’s ethnic & religious affiliation, a caution not to judge before all the facts are in.

    Already, there are questions about who this guy really is (See link to theatlanticwire.com and link to nytimes.com

    What we do know is the involvement of Terry Jones and Morris Sadek, an Egyptian-American Copt. To be continued.

  18. I heard a much more militant, organized version of this mob on the news (not Fox!) so it’s important to set the record straight.
    Your account sounds more likely–why doesn’t anyone ever ask the folks in the neighborhood what they think? Why do we have to listen to politicians and pundits who have never even been to the places described?
    At least the above reporting reflects more of the people in the area than anything else I’ve seen–and if the author hasn’t put some serious hours into understanding this issue by getting to know the people directly involved, I’d be surprised.
    We need more careful, compassionate truth-seekers to keep peace all around.
    Thanks for your article–I’ve sent it to the Cycle where I heard a guest describe something much scarier than the above.

  19. Dr. Cole: What do you think of the emerging reports that “Sam Bacile” possibly isn’t Israeli or doesn’t actually exist (although someone claiming to be an Israeli-American by that name apparently gave interviews to several news sources)?

    link to theatlantic.com

  20. It’s still the economy. Romney has more experience internationally than Obama had four years ago. (Olympics) And Romney won’t bow to Muslim Saudis or anyone else. We do not have the answers for other cultures. What we have is the Christian-Judeo philosophy that we are blessed to be a blessing. Good motivation but the results are not always appreciated by the recipients. Should have voted for Hillary.

    • Romney WILL “bow” to Zionists who wish to ethnically clean the West Bank of the Jordan river of its indigenous population. He WILL “bow” to Christian Fundamentalists who want the Jewish “heathens” to recreate Israel as a launching pad for the return of Jesus. He WILL “bow” to plutocrats who wish the American economy to be receptive to outsourcing the working poor’s jobs to Asian and African sweat shops. Romney WILL “bow” to the “1%” who wish to balance the country’s debt on the backs of her poor.

    • If managing an event held in Utah is “international experience” then so is driving a tour bus in Los Angeles or New York, if your clients are from outside the country.

      Mitt has proven once again that he is not fit for the job. And since he shows every sign of following every foreign policy idea of the Bush Administration, you can be SURE that he will bow to Muslim Saudis.

    • “What we have is the Christian-Judeo philosophy that we are blessed to be a blessing”, writes Mara. Or, many times, I hear Judeo-Christian values.

      This phenomenon of Judeo Christian values is fairly new. It started in the late 1950’s.

      If you look at the history of Christians & Jews in Europe, Jews were always persecuted & slaughtered by the Christians, even when Jews did not do anything wrong. The reason was simply that they were Jews.

      I will give just few examples what happened in the long history of Jews. While the Christian were coming to invade Jerusalem, wherever they found Jewish villages, the Jewish population was slaughtered.

      Before the advent of Islam in Andalusia, Visigoths treated Jews worse than slaves. After Islamic rule in Andalusia, everyone knows how Catholic Queen Isabella & her husband Ferdinand treated Jews. They were again slaughtered along with Muslims for about 350 years.

      Nazi Christian party in Germany did the last slaughter of Jews. Jews were almost wiped out of Europe by Christians.

      So to say that, “What we have is the Christian-Judeo philosophy that we are blessed to be a blessing”. You must be kidding yourself. Out of the guilt & shame what happened in Germany the Judeo Christian phenomenon started.

    • Uh, yeah, there’s no way Hillary Clinton would ever pursue a foreign policy like Obama’s…oh, wait, she’s his Secretary of State. Never mind.

    • If Rmoney doesn’t bow to “Muslim Saudis,” it will be a first in his career. He’s bowed to just about everyone and everything else. And more experience? In what? Insulting allies? Double plays, like saying that Jews are good with money and Palestinians are inferior, all in the same trip? Face it, the man is stupid and insensitive.

  21. I’m not a specialist in the Middle East, but I am a profession filmmaker with two decades experience working in Hollywood.

    Here’s my gut reaction to watching the entirety of “The Mohammad Movie” so-called trailer on You Tube… This ridiculously amateur exercise in basement-filmmaking feels like those dreadful end-days flicks the Rapture Christians are so fond of making.

    I do not believe that this really is “only the trailer” for a $5 million dollar movie. If anyone had actually shot a single scene of anything resembling a real movie, the outdoor scenes in this so-called trailer would not be almost entirely shot against a blue screen (or green screen). People create more realistic footage making video holiday cards on iMovie.

    The emphasis (within the dreadfully amateur video) on persecution of Christians supports the theory that this film was made by fanatical end-days Christians attempting to incite war in the Middle East. If we allow ourselves to be so manipulated, we really would be imbeciles (sambacile).

    Romney-in-Chief would likely give them their wish. Let us all pray fervently that adults continue to be in charge, and Obama is re-elected.

  22. On the Guardian’s report today, it says Obama vows that ‘justice will be done’. This is the key passage
    ‘Obama, in an apparent swipe at the film, said the US was a nation that respected all faiths and “we reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others”. In spite of that, he added: “There is no justification for this senseless violence. None. The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.”

    I am wondering what Pakistani men and women must think of this when they hear it. Is the ‘senseless violence’ of drone strikes in civilian areas condoned because it is not, after all, American blood that is at stake? So now, brutality (illegal wars, drone strikes and special ops attacks wherever and whenever we please) is acceptable when done in the strategic interests of the U.S. It is utterly UNacceptable when it is in opposition to U.S. power. Does the United States really expect that this blatant double standard will go unnoticed?

    • “blatant double standard”

      Shooting rockets at an embassy is treated differently from shooting rockets at al Qaeda and Haqqani network commanders, and the term you use to describe this is “double standard.”

      “You keep using those words. I don’t think they mean what you think they mean.”

  23. I think it is important to note that the film has been around for at least a month. Personally I hold Egyptian television’s Sheikh Khaled Abdalla responsible for the violence because of his inflammatory report of the film. I wish the press could get away for a moment from the American connection, and look at how this has all been orchestrated overseas.

  24. So I guess Romney also condemned the Bush administration’s response to the Danish cartoons as support for the mob violence following their publication?

    ”We find them offensive, and we certainly understand why Muslims would find these images offensive.”

    Oh, I’m forgetting: IOKIYAR

  25. Some news outlets are reporting that this U.S. Consulate incident was a well-coordinated and planned attack to coincide with the 9/11 anniversary and has no link to the “Sam Bacile” film.

    There are also some conflicting stories who “Sam Bacile” actually is. Some reports describe him as an American-Israeli Jew and others an Egyptian Copt.

    One actress in the film expressed horror in an interview over the Libya deaths of U.S. diplomatic personnel due to purported links to the movie.

    The Israeli government has made an official statement via a spokesman.

    It shall be interesting to see who actually financed and directed this film. One picture that sems to be emerging is that the true movers and shakers behind its release are neither Arab nor Jewish but third-party individuals trying to promote conflict between those camps.

    • It sure would be a hell of a coincidence if spontaneous outrage over something on YouTube just happened to turn into a rocket attack on an American embassy on September 11.

  26. npr.org just issued an update a few hours ago that a production manager in the film whose middle name is “Basseley” is an Egyptian Copt (Orthodox) who was recently released from 21-months in prison following a fedral bank fraud conviction. There are suggestions that this may be the real “Sam Bacile”.

    The name “Basile” (or Bacile) is a common Eastern Orthodox name.

  27. Mr. Cole, your article hits exactly the type of informed analysis of “feelings” in Middle East most Americans need to see. I noted a recent Al Jazzera ‘Cafe’ production as being of similar goodness.

    Noooo doubt about it, Romney was out of line having ANY published opinion because of political sensitivity, but thats obviously not how its going to play. GOP will say Obama is weak/soft no matter how he handles it short of nukes. I watched Nightline and heard about ‘soccer thugs’ types being involved, and along with your article re: new government operations (and even Egyptian police motivations) came through as 100% believable.

    Saying “Muslims have NO sense of half-way” regarding ANY negatives like crappy film on Prophet Mohammed or sub-text of those who produced is part of problem, and you engaged on that with choice new leadership faced: agree with riots that resulted in high level deaths and be viewed badly by US gov’t or call people down for it and getting lumped into another bad category as assistant Satans or such.

    In US we essentially filtered out religious nut jobs like Bachmann and Perry along the way, even if freedom of various kinds is at odds with sane discourse. That historical background isn’t a regular part of things in most of the world, and places where EVERYONE has weapons like an RPG, there is no muzzle to expressing opinions. If “ambassador and others came under HEAVY fire” is right, it sounds like was something was afoot vs. protest. I expect its going to be tough for Obama to follow up on “bringing responsible ones to justice” promise, esp. since many will be thinking in terms of an episode of CSI where bad guys lose at end of an hour.

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