Posts tagged Innocence of Muslims
President Obama has been forced to reassess his view of what caused the attack in Benghazi, Libya that killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens, raising questions about whether the White House has a solid grasp on the underpinnings of the angry convulsions rocking the Middle East and the impact of the so-called “Cairo doctrine” laid out by Obama shortly after he took office in 2009.
The White House initially laid the blame for the attack, as well as dozens of other protests that continue to roil the Mideast, on a YouTube clip from a movie called “The Innocence of Muslims” insulting of the Prophet Mohammed. White House spokesman Jay Carney first said the attack came “in response to … a film that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting.”
But this week, Mr. Carney changed the White House position and called the killing of Ambassador Stevens and three more diplomatic personnel a “terrorist attack.” In a TV interview Friday, Obama added that radical Libyan factions had used the movie as an “excuse” for a sophisticated incursion.
To be sure, when President Obama in 2009 offered a “new beginning” for US-Mideast relations based on “mutual respect and mutual interest,” he also acknowledged that turmoil in the region had historical antecedents that “go beyond any current policy debate.”
But emerging information about the attack and the continuing protests, some of which have turned deadly in recent days, have contrasted the President’s lofty hopes for the region with the impact of that policy, and whether it really quells tensions by reducing hatred for the US and the West among radical Muslims. Favorable views in Muslim countries toward the US dropped from 25 percent in 2009 to 15 percent in 2012, according to a Pew Global Attitudes survey released in June.
To some analysts, the seismic cultural and political convulsions in the past year, including protests in 20 nations over the YouTube clip, is testing the central premise of adjusting American interests while wielding softer power in the region.
“On … big issues that help define U.S.-Muslim relations – Iran, the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and the Arab Spring – the President has seen a combination of setback, stalemate, and frustration,” writes Ben Feller of the Associated Press in a detailed analysis.
Overall, President Obama continues to receive significantly higher marks from Americans than his GOP challenger, Mitt Romney, when it comes to foreign policy.
But the past two weeks have also been a reality check for an administration still trying to understand the Benghazi incursion and the continuing protests across the region, an effort underscored for many Americans by the sight of the black Salafism flags, often claimed by Al Qaeda elements, flying over the US Embassy in Cairo on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.
Before making broad judgments, some foreign policy analysts urge Americans to consider myriad factors playing into the protests and violence, including localized grievances and power vacuums still unfilled after the US-backed “Arab Spring” uprisings last year. In fact, the US has come to believe that the Benghazi attack may have been partly a response to the drone-killing of a regional Al Qaeda leader with ties to Libya rather than to broader anti-Americanism.
“The current anti-American backlash in the region is the byproduct of genuine misunderstanding, real ignorance, and political jockeying among Islamic groups,” Abdeslam Maghraoui, a Duke University political scientist, tells the AP.
Yet some conservative commentators seized on the White House’s about-face on the genesis of the Benghazi attack as insight into a president unwilling to starkly assess American policy abroad, including what many conservatives see as an apologetic tone and outreach to groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.
Obama acknowledging that the 14-minute trailer to the film was not the root cause of the attack, writes the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer, is for a “staggered and confused” White House to “admit that its doctrinal premises were supremely naïve and its policies deeply corrosive to American influence.”
Some Americans are starting to ask similar questions in the wake of the consulate attack in Benghazi and continued anti-American protests in the region.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll taken before the White House confirmed Benghazi was a terror attack shows support for Obama’s foreign policy slipping by 5 percent since August, to below 50 percent, with 12 percent of independent voters withdrawing their support.
To be sure, the events in Benghazi are just now starting to emerge from the “fog of war” as an official State Department investigation is underway to determine the extent, and cause, of the security breach. But one growing perception in the Middle East is that the murder of Ambassador Stevens and three other embassy personnel may have been a revenge killing by a group known as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb that has been exploiting the power vacuum in Libya.
While the White House may have been under pressure to say something concrete about the Benghazi attack before more details were known, the late acknowledgement of a terror attack suggests to some that the Obama administration has struggled to understand the dynamics of the tumult.
In the case of the Benghazi attack, “I think this is a case of an administration saying what they wished to be true before waiting for all the facts to come in,” a senior retired CIA official said. source – Yahoo News
Muslim terror update worldwide
Pakistani officials say at least 15 people have been killed and more than 160 wounded in clashes between police and people protesting a film that denigrates Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
Officials at two different hospitals, Seemi Jamali and Aftab Channar, say 12 were killed and 82 wounded Friday in the southern port city of Karachi.
Police official Bashir Khan says three others were killed and 61 wounded in the northwest city of Peshawar. Hospital official Tanveer Malik says 25 people were wounded in the capital, Islamabad.
The first confirmed death was Mohammad Amir, a driver for a Pakistani television station, was killed when bullets hit his vehicle in the northwest city of Peshawar, said Kashif Mahmood, a reporter for ARY TV who was also sitting in the car at the time.
Security forces clashed with demonstrators in several other cities in Pakistan on a holiday declared by the government so people could rally against the anti-Islam video.
Thousands of people protested in several other countries, some of them burning American flags and effigies of President Barack Obama.
Pakistan has experienced nearly a week of violent rallies against the film in which three people have died. The government declared Friday to be a national holiday – ‘Love for the Prophet Day’ – and encouraged people to protest peacefully.
As in past days, most of the protests were led by hardline Islamist groups, and the turnout was relatively small given Pakistan’s population of 190 million people. At least five protesters were hurt, a doctor at the city’s main hospital said. The ARY television station said an employee had been killed.
The cinema where police opened fire was one of two in Peshawar that several hundred protesters ransacked and set ablaze. They also torched the city’s chamber of commerce. Police beat back demonstrators with batons and firing tear gas and bullets.
In Peshawar, at least 11 people were wounded, including four who were shot, said police officer Imtiaz Khan. They included eight protesters and three policemen.
Near the capital, Islamabad, protesters set fire to a motorway toll booth. The previous day, about 1,000 stone-throwing protesters clashed with police as they tried to force their way to the U.S. embassy.
The government shut down mobile phone services in more than a dozen cities as part of security arrangements ahead of protests expected on Friday to prevent militants from using phones to detonate bombs.
An Interior Ministry official says the service is blocked in at least 15 cities, including Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. The service is scheduled to be resumed at 6pm local time.
Though there were no reports of bombs in Pakistan, Thai firemen and rescue workers try to put off the fire caused by the blast of a bomb hidden in a pickup truck in Saiburi district of Pattani province, southern Thailand. Suspected Muslim insurgents have detonated a car bomb in Thailand’s violence-prone south, killing five people and wounding a dozen others.
In a bid to tamp down public rage over the anti-Islam film, the American embassy in Islamabad is spending $70,000 to air an ad on Pakistani television that features President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton denouncing the video.
The advertisement comes as more protests are planned in Muslim countries across the globe, with a ‘special day of love’ for the Prophet Mohammed scheduled in Pakistan.
Officials in the country are bracing themselves for potentially violent protests, blocking all cell phone service in major cities to prevent militants from using phones to detonate bombs.
The anger is not limited to Pakistan or the Innocence of Muslims film, as the Iranian president has lashed out at the West over an anti-Islam film produced in the United States and the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad by a French satirical weekly.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at a military parade that ‘in return for (allowing) the ugliest insults to the divine messenger, they – the West – raise the slogan of respect for freedom of speech.’ Ahmadinejad asserted that this shows a double standard and ‘is clearly a deception.’
The protests stem from the anger caused by the American-made film which have left at least 30 people dead, including two in Pakistan.
The U.S. and French embassies were closed on Friday in Jakarta, capital of Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population, and diplomatic missions in the Afghan capital, Kabul, were on lock-down. source – Daily Mail UK
PARIS (AP) — A French news agency is reporting that four people were injured when a small package bomb exploded inside a kosher grocery store in a Paris suburb.
The Sipa news agency says that the small explosion was set off by two hooded people dressed in black who entered the store around midday and put a package inside, citing an unnamed police official and a Jewish organization.
The two fled after throwing a rock through the shop’s window shortly before the explosion, the police official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak publicly about the investigation.
The official said the injured people are being treated for wounds to their arms and legs from the explosion and broken glass.
The attack took place in Sarcelles, a suburb about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Paris.
A French Jewish umbrella organization, CRIF, said in a statement that “it fears this attack” is connected to the days of violent protests from Asia to Africa against the U.S.-produced film “Innocence of Muslims,” which ridicules Prophet Muhammad. source – Yahoo News
Obama’s public approval rate plummets
(CNSNews.com) – The first opinion poll to be conducted after last week’s deadly attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya and a spate of anti-American protests across the Muslim world has recorded a five-point drop in approval for President Obama’s handling of foreign policy.
The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Tuesday found the president’s foreign policy approval among registered voters at 49 percent, down from 54 percent one month earlier.
“The fall was steeper among independents, going from 53 percent in August to 41 percent,” NBC reported. source – CNS News
Afghanistan a daily disaster
The decision announced yesterday to cut back on joint operations undertaken by international and Afghan forces raises crucial questions about the key plank of the exit strategy from the 11-year war which has proved costly in lives and money.
The move is also a significant propaganda coup for the insurgents, coming just after their assault on Camp Bastion which resulted in the destruction of warplanes worth $200m. For the British and coalition troops, the announcement in Washington will only highlight the mistrust which has been the inevitable consequence of 51 deaths inflicted by their supposed Afghan brothers-in-arms. source - Independent UK
US embassy in Indonesia closed due to safety concerns
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesians enraged over an anti-Islam film hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta on Monday, marking the first violence in the world’s most populous Muslim country since outrage exploded last week in the Middle East and beyond.
“We will destroy America like this flag,” a protester screamed while burning a U.S. flag. “We will chase away the American ambassador from the country.”
Eleven police officers were hospitalized after being pelted with rocks and attacked with bamboo sticks, said Jakarta Police Chief Maj. Gen. Untung Rajad. Four protesters were arrested and at least one hospitalized.
Protesters burned a picture of President Barack Obama, who spent part of his childhood living here. They also tried to torch a fire engine parked outside the embassy, ripping a hose from the vehicle and igniting it, which sent plumes of black smoke billowing skyward. source – AP
Will Obama Appease The Muslims?
In a move that could escalate tensions around the Arab world, the leader of the Hezbollah militant group called for protests against the movie and said the U.S. must be held accountable for the film.
In a televised speech, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah pushed for the creation of an international law that would ban insults of Islam and other religions, citing similar laws that exist to prevent anti-Semitism.
His outrage stems from the anti-Islam film produced by a mysterious convict based in California, that has since sparked protests outside American embassies in the Middle East and across the globe.
The protests were set off by a low-budget, crudely produced film called ‘Innocence of Muslims’, which portrays Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester.
‘Those who should be held accountable, punished, prosecuted and boycotted are those directly responsible for this film and those who stand behind them and those who support and protect them, primarily the United States of America,’ Mr Nasrallah said.
He called for protests on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, urging protesters to call on their leaders to express their anger too.
‘We should not only express our anger at an American embassy here or there.
We should tell our rulers in the Arab and Muslim world that it is “your responsibility in the first place” and since you officially represent the governments and states of the Muslim world you should impose on the United States, Europe and the whole world that our prophet, our Quran and our holy places and honor of our Prophet be respected,’ he said.
In Pakistan, police fired tear gas and water cannons at the protesters in Karachi after they broke through the barricade and reached the outer wall of the U.S. Consulate.
The protesters threw stones and bricks, prompting the police to beat back the crowd with their batons.
The police and private security guards outside the consulate also fired in the air to disperse the crowd.
One protester was killed during the clash, said Ali Ahmar, spokesman for the Shiite Muslim group that organized the rally. source – Daily Mail UK
First Amendment rights kicked to the curb
Freedom of speech no more! President Barack Obama has bowed to the Muslim Brotherhood’s demand that the federal government suppress a satirical video of Islam’s prophet, Muhammad.
Youtube’s executives shut down videos that they deem “hate speech.” But YouTube spokesperson said Sept. 12 that the video “is clearly within our guidelines and so will stay on YouTube.”
Obama’s request complies with the Sept. 13 demand and threat by the brotherhood, which now governs the Arab world’s largest country, Egypt.
“Hurting the feelings of one and a half billion Muslims cannot be tolerated, and… we demand that all those involved in such crimes be urgently brought to trial,” according to an English-language statement on the brotherhood’s website.
The brotherhood’s demand included a threat of additional violence during Obama’s re-election campaign. “The people’s anger and fury for their Faith is invariably predictable, often unstoppable,” said the website.
Brotherhood-organized violence throughout the Middle East could deeply damage Obama’s election chances, just as similar Islamist violence in Iran sank President Jimmy Carter’s re-election effort in 1979.
The brotherhood’s demands were pushed Sept. 13 by Egypt’s new Islamist president, Mohamad Morsi, a brotherhood member who Obama helped put in power.
The video-makers “are not accepted, not by people in Egypt nor other Arab and Islamic countries, nor by their own people,” Morsi declared at a televised event in Brussels, Belgium.
“I affirm that the American people reject this and I’ve called on them to declare their rejection of them, at the same time with our rejection of those bad practices that bring harm and not benefit,” he claimed to his audience in Egypt, Europe and Washington.
Obama’s re-election campaign is being held hostage by Morsi, said Michael Rubin, an expert on Islamist parties at the American Enterprise Institute.
In response, Obama should repeatedly declare the First Amendment bars U.S. government action against Islam’s critics, and should also threaten to cut off much-needed financial aid to Egypt, Rubin said. (EXPERT: ‘Obama is hostage to Morsi’)
Obama and his aides, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have begun to say that their hands are tied by the First Amendment, but they also continue to denounce the video as “disgusting.”
The federal denunciation of the video bolsters Morsi’s effort to focus domestic unrest on America, rather than on the performance of his government.
Morsi depends on aid from the United States and other Arab countries, because the country’s 82 million people are wracked by unemployment, poor education, food shortages and corruption.
In contrast to Obama’s request, Gov. Mitt Romney defended the video-maker’s First Amendment rights.
“The idea of using something that some people consider sacred and then parading that out a negative way is simply inappropriate and wrong… Of course, we have a First Amendment,” he said Sept. 14 during an ABC interview. “Under the First Amendment, people are allowed to do what they feel they want to do,” he said.
The White House’s submission came shortly after White House spokesman Jay Carney publicly disavowed any plans to curb free speech. “We cannot and will not squelch freedom of expression in this country — it is a foundational principle,” he told reporters at a 11:15 a.m. press conference in the White House. source – Daily Caller
Riots by Muslims that began on September 11, 2012, have reached Jerusalem, where demonstrations were held after Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque in the Old City.
The protests began peacefully with several hundred people demonstrating on the plaza that holds both the Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock mosques, chanting, “With our blood and our soul, we will sacrifice for you our Prophet.”
But clashes broke out between a part of the crowd and Israeli police as the demonstration moved out of the Old City, with security forces firing tear gas and stun grenades that injured at least five people, an AFP correspondent said. Several policemen were reportedly hurt.
“Israel police are dispersing rioters at Damascus Gate, rocks and stones are being thrown at them,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.
An AFP correspondent at the scene said demonstrators appeared to be trying to head to U.S. diplomatic premises in east Jerusalem, with Israeli police, some on horseback, seeking to prevent the protest from moving.
In Gaza, thousands of people rallied at demonstrations in Gaza City and the southern town of Rafah, a day after the ruling Hamas party urged citizens to turn out for protests after Friday prayers.
Protesters waved the flags of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements, and set fire to American flags, chanting “Death, death to America, death, death to Israel.”
Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh, in a sermon during Friday prayers, repeated a call on Washington to apologize for the film, produced in the United States.
“The US administration should apologize to the Arab and Islamic nation for this offensive film and bring these criminals to justice,” he said.
Haniyeh said the film was the result of “a Jewish-American-Crusader alliance to ignite a war on Islam and sectarian strife, particularly in Egypt.”
The amateur production called “Innocence of Muslims,” which was virtually unheard of before this week, has sparked violent protests across the Middle East.
The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other US personnel were killed in a terror attack at the city of Benghazi, and four people were killed on Thursday when Yemeni police opened fire at a protest in Sana’a. source – Israeli National News