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NightWatch 20120911


For the Night of 11 September 2012

Egypt: For the record. Egyptian authorities ordered the arrest of former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq on suspicion of corruption, judicial sources said on 11 September. Shafiq ran in the presidential elections but lost to President Mohammed Mursi.

Comment: Shafiq's pending arrest will remove him as potential challenger in a future election or episode protests. Shafiq's close association with the Egyptian Army leadership implies that this is also a move against the army.

Egypt-US: Protesters scaled the walls of the US embassy in Cairo on Tuesday and pulled down the American flag during a protest over what they said was a film being produced in the United States that insulted Prophet Mohammad, witnesses said. In place of the US flag, the protesters tried to raise a black flag with the words "There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger", a Reuters reporter said. Once the U.S. flag was hauled down, protesters tore it up, with some showing off small pieces to television cameras. Then others burned remains.

A statement by the US embassy blamed the makers of the film for, essentially, bringing this violence down on the US embassy. "We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others," the U.S. embassy said in its statement.

Comment: The mainstream news services have covered the details about the storming of the US Embassy compound in Cairo. Several points are worth comment. The first is the US Embassy's statement either is a meaningless personal statement by a scared staff or a poorly informed misrepresentation of US law. It is settled US case law, for example, that neo-Nazis can march in Jewish suburbs in any city in the US under specified conditions. No religion gets a pass. An ambassador should know that. He also should have denounced those who use religion to justify venting their anti-American sentiments in violence and destruction.

The result is the US embassy appears to be apologizing to misguided, out of control rioters who were allowed by Egyptian authorities to violate US sovereign territory.

Apologies by the innocent victims of violence are acts of submission that stoke demands for greater acts of submission, even in US culture. To some Muslims, including groups in Pakistan, the very existence of the US or Israel is an affront to their interpretation of Islam and "hurts their religious beliefs."  There is no way to avoid hurting their religious sensibilities .

Finally, no news services reported the presence of the Egyptian police or paramilitary security forces or any effort to control the rioters. No news clips showed Egyptian security personnel. Some news services in the past have reported that the civil disorders of the past year have resulted in the destruction of the Egyptian civil police as an effective force for civil order.

Egypt-Iran: For the record. Rumors that Egypt is negotiating to buy oil from Iran are not true, Egyptian Oil Minister Osama Kamal said on 11 September. (Note: Yesterday a spokesman from this ministry directed inquiries to the Iranian oil ministry.)

Libya-US: For the record. Religious militants attacked the US Consulate in Benghazi with rocket-propelled grenades due to a video produced in the United States that allegedly insults Islam. Gunmen and security forces also fought outside the consulate, according to a Libyan official. The attackers stormed the consulate, but no one was inside at the time, a Libyan Interior Ministry official said. One American consulate worker was killed.

End of NightWatch for 11 September.

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