The storming of the U.S. embassies in Libya and Egypt and the death of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, on Sept. 11 has been a confusing issue, to say the least.
So far, we know that there were several protests raging in Cairo and Benghazi over an anti-Muhammed movie trailer that was posted on Youtube. This has now spread to over 20 countries including Yemen, Tunisia and Sudan – and two more embassies have been breached, The New York Times reported.
A major Hollywood studio did not produce the movie, titled Innocence of Muslims or The Life of Muhammed. In fact, searches conducted by news organizations cannot trace the movie’s supposed director, “Sam Bacile,” to any permit filed with the California Film Commission, where the movie’s filming took place. Actors and actresses in the movie said that their voices were dubbed over and the original story was supposed to be about Egypt 2,000 years ago.
The trailer, which has now been blocked in Libya and Egypt, may not be what initially ticked off protestors.
Don DeBar, a journalist and anti-war activist, told Russia Today in an interview on Sept. 13 that generally, people don’t get angry at a movie and bring weapons with them. He speculated that there were deeper issues that fueled the attacks.
What are these issues? It may just be a difference in culture.
Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton explained this at the U.S. – Morocco Strategic Dialogue on Sept. 13. She condemned the trailer as “disgusting and reprehensible,” but also explained how the First Amendment works in the U.S. Citizens are allowed to express their views, even if they are controversial.
Reporters Without Borders puts together their annual Press Freedom Index, which ranks countries around the world based on press freedom. Libya and Egypt, where the initial attacks occurred, were ranked 154 and 166, respectively. The United States is ranked 47th in press freedom.
It may explain why protestors reacted they way they did to the movie, which depicts Muhammed as a child molester and a thug. Such a film would never see the light of day in these countries, while parodies are common in the U.S. However, it does not excuse the fact the protestors attacked an embassy whose sole purpose is to improve diplomatic relations. It also does not excuse the attack on an American school in Tunisia, or any of the other attacks that have occurred in the aftermath.