CAIRO — Emad El-Tohamy was lifted onto the shoulders of other Egyptian protesters Wednesday outside the U.S. Embassy here and denounced America for allowing a film that depicts the Islam prophet Mohammed in a vulgar, insulting manner.
“I see the U.S. government allowed the Web to spread this link all over the world without limiting freedom, without banning it,” said Mohammad Umma, who like many in the crowd believes that because America is a democratic nation it should censor media that insult any religion.
“America tells us they are the country of freedom, democracy and tolerance,” Umma said. “We considered America democratic, but now with what happened, we hate America.”
Attacks in Libya that left four U.S. diplomats dead — including Ambassador Christopher Stevens — and a mob invasion of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo in which the U.S. flag was torn to shreds have left many to wonder: How can people the USA helped free from murderous dictators treat it in such a way?
“Many Americans are asking — indeed, I asked myself — how could this happen?” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said. “How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? ”
The Arab Spring was lauded in the West for bringing in rapid succession the ouster of dictators such as Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Moammar Gadhafi in Libya and Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen.
Although the revolutions brought democracy, they have also empowered leaders of a stringent brand of political Islam to push for changes not always in line with Western values such as freedom of expression.
And they are using anti-Islamic material from the West to stir up opposition to the West. The latest example is the use of a previously unnoticed film produced in California that depicted Mohammed as a child molester and murderer.
“The growth of democracy in the Middle East is going to bring forward a lot of anti-American sentiment that has been suppressed for a long time by dictators who were seeking friendly relations with America,” said Joshua Landis, head of Middle Easternstudies at the University of Oklahoma.
“There are a lot of people who are very resentful toward the West and believe that the West is anti-Islamic,” he said. “I think we are going to see a lot more of this. They are remaking their identities, and America, the West and Islam are at the very center of how different factions are going to position themselves.”
‘A deliberate attack’
It remains unclear who was behind the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, which came on the 11th anniversary of 9/11. In 2001, members of the Islamist terror group al-Qaeda hijacked four planes and killed nearly 3,000 people. …
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