While Libya’s people and government seem genuinely shocked and appalled by the murderous attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi has instructed the Egyptian Embassy in Washington to use “all legal measures” to punish whoever it was who made the “blasphemous” film that sent the Arab world’s fanatics over the edge.
Meanwhile, protesters outside our embassy in Cairo are demanding that President Barack Obama take action against the filmmaker.
There is no chance anything of the sort will ever happen. A lunatic religious studies professor named Anthea Butler thinks the filmmaker ought to be jailed, but she pretty much stands alone. We don’t punish people who blaspheme Christianity. We’re certainly not going to start punishing people who blaspheme other religions, especially not when we’re ordered to do so by terrorists.
Morsi is shaping up to be Egypt’s own Ayatollah Khomeini. Followers of the Iranian tyrant also attacked our embassy and its staff. And Khomeini himself tried to enforce his reactionary blasphemy code beyond Iran’s borders by sending death squads to hunt down Salman Rushdie to punish him for his novel, The Satanic Verses.
David Frum at the Daily Beast thinks Morsi is “fabricating an international incident to mobilize religious passions as a weapon for his political grouping against more secular blocs in Egyptian society.” It’s hard to say for sure, but that’s probably right.
Morsi might stop framing the United States when he needs to mobilize his authoritarian shock troops if President Obama threatens to cut off his funding (which, at this point, we might want to consider doing regardless). Otherwise, Morsi will have no incentive whatsoever to stop. It would then be just a matter of time before more people get killed and Egyptian-American relations deteriorate anyway.