“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,” said his statement released just after midnight as Sept. 11 came to a close.
“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.
Romney’s sharp statement came after news websites highlighted the Cairo embassy’s attempt to appease a planned Sept. 11 protest or riot at the site, which was called by Islamists who oppose domestic or foreign criticism of Islam.
The Islamist protesters occupied part of the embassy, and said they were angry about a movie being shot in California that highlights many damaging statements and actions attributed by orthodox Muslims to Islam’s 7th century prophet, Muhammad.
On the same day, Islamists in next-door Libya attacked a U.S. consulate in Benghazi city, killing one U.S. employee and injuring another. The consulate was later abandoned.
Prior to the Sept. 11 protest, the embassy — which is now headed by a top State Department official who formerly was ambassador in Pakistan — condemned the movie’s Californian producers for “abuse” of the United State’s constitution’s first amendment.
“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,” said the statement.
“Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy [and] we firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
After Romney slammed the embassy statement, Obama’s deputies responded by suggesting that Romney is unsympathetic to the dead American.
“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,” said a statement from Obama’s political re-election campaign.
Administration officials also tried to soften the damage caused by the embassy through a statement that simultaneously condemned the movie producers and the attackers, but did not support free speech.
“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior [at the diplomatic sites] as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. … But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind,” said a statement attributed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Experts on Islam sharply criticized the embassy statement as an official step towards acceptance of Islam’s laws against any blasphemy against the religion.
The statement “betrays the president’s agenda to impose on Americans sharia speech-suppression standards in blatant violation of the First Amendment,” said Andrew McCarthy, a former top justice official who won the 1995 conviction of an Egyptian for urging other Muslims to conduct terror attacks in New York.
The attacks included the 1993 bomb strike on the Twin Towers.
McCarthy persuaded the jury that Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as “the Blind Sheik,” used his command of the Koran to persuade Muslims to launch the attacks.
The attack on the Cairo embassy could have been prevented by Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood government, which has now shown itself to be an enemy of the United States, McCarthy wrote in National Review.
Since the Islamists took power form Egypt’s military this year, Obama’s administration has renewed military aid and has begun negotiations to forgive $1 billion in past farm aid. In July, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Egypt’s new ruler, Mohamed Morsi, and announced U.S. support for “the full transition to civilian rule with all that entails.”
The still-unreleased movie is built around orthodox Islamic religious texts that describe Muhammad’s statements and actions.
Those actions included the murder of old women and of captured Jewish tribesmen, the capture and sale of slaves, and Muhammad’s multiple marriages to women, and one to a girl younger than 12.
Some of the low-budget movie can be seen on YouTube.
Although Christian prophets and the Christian Messiah, Jesus, have been studied and ridiculed for hundreds of years in the West, Islamists oppose any criticism of Islam or of Muhammad. Under Islam’s Shariah law, the death penalty is imposed for blasphemy, as well as for apostasy and conversion to Christianity or other religions.
The Washington Post reported that a spokesman for the ruling Islamist Muslim Brotherhood party urged the U.S. to curb free speech about Islam. “It isn’t a matter of freedom of speech. … It’s a matter of a holy Islamic symbol,” said spokesman Mahmoud Gozlan, according to the Post.
Egypt’s president, Morsi, is a member of the brotherhood.
In recent years numerous writers, producers and cartoonists have been threatened with murder — and some have been killed — after they criticized aspects of Islam.
In 2011, Islamists in northern Afghanistan went on a rampage and murdered several locals and aid workers after a U.S. pastor, Terry Jones, burned a copy of the Quran.
Earlier, the President of the United States used the power of his office to deter the pastor of the little-known church in Florida from burning copies of the Muslim holy book.
“The idea that we would burn the sacred texts of someone else’s religion … is contrary to what this nation is founded upon, and my hope is that this individual prays on it and refrains from doing it,” Obama said during a September 2010 press conference.
“We’ve got an obligation to send a very clear message [to Americans] that this kind of behavior or threats of action put our young men and women in harms way. … This is a way of endangering our troops, our sons and daughters, fathers, mothers, husbands and wives,” he insisted, without condemning people who threaten to kill Americans if their favored books are burned.