President Obama , and the Republican candidate for the presidency, Mitt Romney, have made statements regarding the rioting in Cairo, Egypt, and in Benghazi, Libya. While seeking a safe haven during the Libyan protest by extremist Muslims, American Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens was killed, as was Sean Smith, a Foreign Service information management officer, and two security persons who are at this point unnamed.
President Obama has taken action, particularly in Libya, in response to the rampaging. The president has called for the use of troops and drones, as well as missile-armed warships, and outlined the American position. While pundits alter their input from hour to hour, there is cause to believe that both riots are at least partly in response to an insulting promotional video which many agree is insulting to the Islamic religion and goes beyond a depiction of The Prophet, Mohammed.
The video preview depicts a handsome young actor in the role of Mohammed, Prophet and founder of the Muslim religion, which serves a great part of humanity. It opens with a view of an attractive woman telling the young portrayer to place his head between her bare legs, which he does. The video is very graphic, deserving of an X-rating and certainly not suitable for television or family viewing. As her arousal is satisfied, she questions, “Can you still see him?” It is unclear if the reference is to God, the Devil, or too some third apparition. “No!” he answers.
In the next scene the pair and the woman’s cousin are outside the tent where the love-making took place. They gesture to a fine looking donkey there, and the male actor says, “I will make him the first Muslim animal.” The cousin, older and wizened asks, “Does the donkey like women?” “No,” the younger man replies. “Nafore does not like women!” The video clip continues: The woman, now called Sadlicka, talks to her cousin who replies, that he will make a book for the younger man… a compilation of conversions including the New Testament. The young man says he is searching for an answer. “If I don’t find it, I will kill myself, as I have attempted twice before.”
I had considered including a link to the video, but to do so would be a violation of a high premise of the Islamic religion regarding depictions of and characterizations of the Prophet. While we may agree that much can be achieved by interested parties viewing the video, we must consider the Muslim sensitivities.
During the early stages of rioting and flag burning, a spokesman for the embassy in Egypt stated that they “condemn the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. 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.” Secretary Clinton later wrote, “The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
Candidate Romney, incensed by the violence and angry at the Democratic administration on Wednesday morning stated, “I think it is a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values. That instead, when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation. And apology for America’s values is never the right course. The fact that the statement came from the American embassy in Egypt, not from the president himself, doesn’t negate Obama’s responsibility.” Romney, while outraged, spoke out against the American administration saying, “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 feels that when an embassy under attack “deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” the administration is apologizing for the basic American right for free speech.
While we appreciate Romney describing what his course of action would have been were he president, we have to wonder at a major political figure being so transfixed by a coming election as to speak out of frustration and political expedience.
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