Tag Archives: Egypt

The Cinch Review

Islam, Mohammed and free speech: Could honesty be the best policy?

Yesterday, four American diplomats were murdered in Benghazi, Libya, and the consulate destroyed. The U.S. embassy in Cairo was attacked and breached by a mob, and its flag set on fire. Although the murders seem to have been pre-planned to a significant degree, both outbursts of violence are said to have been sparked by the circulation of a clip on the internet of some amateur film made by Americans which casts Mohammed and Islam in a negative light. The violent Islamic mobs were trying to correct any mistaken, negative ideas about Islam.

The messages from the U.S. government have to one degree or another “deplored” or “condemned” the denigration of anyone’s religion (i.e. the YouTube clip) while saying there’s no justification for violence over it. In the middle of a political campaign, the opposition has made hay by painting the current administration as weak. And maybe the Obama administration is weak. However, it should be recalled that similar responses took place during the previous administration to outbursts in the Muslim world like this, and there is reason to wonder whether President Romney’s words in the future would be as tough as Candidate Romney’s words now. An excuse always offered for tiptoeing around the sensibilities of rampaging mobs in the Muslim world is that it would “put our troops in danger” to offend the enraged fanatics any further.

I don’t know how well this has worked to date. In any case, U.S. troops are no longer in Iraq. In Afghanistan, even as things stand, the greatest threat to American personnel appears to be uniformed members of the official Afghan army, who have been outfitted and trained by us.

There seems to be a problem with the “messaging” from the American side. When the U.S. president and secretary-of-state take pains to say in a situation like this that Islam should not be denigrated, they are leaving the impression that they might actually do something to stop it, or that they would like to. The First Amendment, we should hope, would constrain them. However, they are reinforcing the idea, already highly-prevalent in the Muslim world, that one day no one will be permitted to speak ill of Mohammed or Islam. There are even persistent efforts at the U.N. to pass what amount to “anti-blasphemy” resolutions.

Maybe the message from the U.S. needs to be simplified in cases like this (of which there are bound to be more, as anyone with a cell-phone camera can shoot a “blasphemous” video and upload it to YouTube). Maybe the message needs to be something more like this:

“We have freedom of speech in America, which absolutely includes the right to criticize religious beliefs. That is not ever going to change. Those who criticize others’ beliefs may be criticized in return, but they may not be physically assaulted because of their opinions. Anyone attacking American citizens, anywhere in the world, will be dealt with extremely harshly.” Continue reading Islam, Mohammed and free speech: Could honesty be the best policy?

The Cinch Review

Egyptian liberals tell U.S. to butt out with all this democracy stuff

It’s an irony wrapped up in … an even bigger irony. A block of liberal political parties in Egypt issued a “strongly worded statement” on Saturday telling the U.S. to stop putting pressure on Egypt’s military to hand over power to the Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi (who is widely believed to have won a majority of the vote). Implicitly, they would prefer that the old-guard Mubarak-era candidate, Ahmed Shafiq, take control. Continue reading Egyptian liberals tell U.S. to butt out with all this democracy stuff

The Cinch Review

Increasingly lethal times for Christians

In Western Ethiopia, about fifty churches and dozens of houses belonging to Christians have been burned by Buddhist activists Muslim mobs, displacing thousands of people.

“The violence against Christians in Ethiopia is alarming because Ethiopian Muslims and Christians used to live together peacefully. Besides, it’s extremely disconcerting that in Ethiopia, where Christians are the majority, they are also the victims of persecution,” Jonathan Racho, ICC’s Regional Manager of Africa and South Asia, told FoxNews.com.

This is just the latest in a never-ending and bitter litany of attacks on Christians by militant Muslims in so many different areas of what’s sometimes called the “developing world.” Interesting developments indeed. Continue reading Increasingly lethal times for Christians

The Cinch Review

President Robert Gates speaks on Middle East

Robert Gates, who just visited Egypt and from there stopped in Israel, has made a number of pointed but quite well thought-out statements regarding the current unprecedented upheavals in the Middle East. With regard to Syria, where dozens of demonstrators have been killed by Bashar Assad’s security forces, Gates said: Continue reading President Robert Gates speaks on Middle East

The Cinch Review

Egypt: Yes, it’s Bush’s fault

The recent revolt in Tunisia has been followed by massive unrest in Egypt, and frustrations are beginning to bubble into actions in a number of other Middle-Eastern dictatorships. Is it 1989 again? Too soon to say that, but things are moving quickly, and, should Mubarak fall, it will surely encourage revolt in other nearby countries with underemployed and unhappy young populations. Continue reading Egypt: Yes, it’s Bush’s fault