Protesters attack U.S. embassy in Cairo
CAIRO — Egyptian protesters scaled the U.S. Embassy's security wall on Tuesday, pulling down the American flag and replacing it with the al-Qaida terrorist group's black banner.
In a similar attack in Libya, Ambassador Chris Stevens, 52, was killed when he and a group of embassy employees went to the consulate in Benghazi to try to evacuate staff as the building came under attack by a mob guns and rocket propelled grenades. Three other Americans were also killed.
Stevens is the first U.S. ambassador to be killed in an attack since 1979, when Ambassador Adolph Dubs was killed in Afghanistan.
In Cairo, more than a thousand Egyptians chanted outside the embassy's perimeter as scores of men entered the compound and spray-painted slogans on its walls.“Bin Laden” was painted on a sign above an embassy doorway — referring to the al-Qaida leader who directed the 9/11 attacks on American targets and who was killed by Navy SEALs in Pakistan in May 2011.Warned of the impending protest, most embassy staff had evacuated the compound and no injuries were reported.Frenzied demonstrators lowered the American flag, shredded it and burned pieces.Shouts of “God is great!” and “Oh America, wait, wait! The blood of the prophet Muhammad runs in our blood!” erupted from the crowd.The mob — dominated by ultra-religious Salafis and violence-prone soccer fans known as “Ultras” — were enraged over a little-known movie that dismisses the Muslim prophet, Muhammad, as a fraud.Several reports attributed the video to an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian living in America and to Terry Jones, a controversial Florida pastor whose threats to burn the Quran a year ago sparked deadly riots in Afghanistan. Jones announced that he planned to put the prophet on trial on Tuesday in what he called International Judge Muhammad Day.In a video announcing the “trial,” Jones, wearing a black shirt with the word “Infidel” printed on it in Arabic, said that he planned to charge the prophet “with being a false prophet, thus leading 1.6 billion people astray.”A Salafi satellite-TV channel here aired some clips of the video, and a Salafi leader called for protests outside the embassy; other clips have been posted on Internet sites.Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad in any fashion, much less in an insulting way. The 2005 publication of 12 caricatures of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper triggered riots in many Muslim countries. Salafis are the second-largest bloc in Egypt's parliament and partners of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood government headed by Mohamed Morsy. The two Islamic parties won power in elections as a result of the 2011 ouster of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's president for three decades.Political observers were shocked by the embassy breach and wondered if the Morsy government was directly involved or tolerated the attack.Hani Shukrallah, a managing editor of Egypt's most influential newspaper, Al Ahram, said the embassy is “like a citadel,” and he was surprised it was overrun so easily.“We don't know how the Egyptian police are working and who they are taking orders from these days,” he said. “I have no idea whether (President) Morsy has control of these people or not. … It could be that the Morsy government is playing games.”In Libya, armed gunmen said to be protesting the film attacked the compound on Tuesday evening, clashing with Libyan security forces before the latter withdrew as they came under heavy fire.Unknown gunmen were shooting at the buildings while others threw handmade bombs into the compound, setting off small explosions. Small fires were burning around the compound.Libya's interim government has struggled to impose its authority on armed groups that have refused to lay down their weapons and often take the law into their own hands.A number of security violations have rocked Benghazi, Libya's second biggest city and the cradle of last year's revolt that toppled Moammar Gadhafi.Hisham Kassem, an Egyptian media publisher and human-rights advocate, said the embassy “usually has trucks of security around it” and described the protest as “pathetic.”“Either (President) Morsy really thinks this is the way to uphold their ideology outright, or he is just plain stupid,” Kassem said, suggesting government involvement.“There should have been security preparations for this protest. This is a security failure,” he said.Egypt remains a key U.S. ally in the region and the second-largest recipient of its foreign aid — $1.3 billion annually, most of it for the military.U.S. officials have maintained cordial relations with Morsy since his election in June, despite concern in the West that his Muslim Brotherhood affiliation will radicalize Egypt and lead to Islamic rule in the most populous Arab nation.Morsy recently met with a large American business delegation, urging it to invest here. Egypt's economy has ground to a near-halt since the unrest of 2011.The U.S. Embassy released a statement before the protest, condemning “continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”Betsy Hiel is the Tribune-Review's foreign correspondent. Email her at email@example.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Coca-Cola shaves incentives for executives
- Giants, Bumgarner shut out Pirates in wild-card game
- Rossi: Pirates can’t waste McCutchen’s prime
- East Huntingdon man dies following police chase
- Port Vue upgrades office equipment
- Pirates’ Martin calls crowd chant ‘petty special’
- Highmark to increase premiums, limit access to health care in new plans
- Consol Energy cutting retiree health benefits, phasing out pension
- Former Steelers doctor loses bid for Miranda protection
- Steelers pressing to create opportunities to get to quarterback
- DVD reviews: ‘Chef,’ ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’ and ‘Cold in July’