Anti-American protests topic for SF Muslims

September 14, 2012 11:36:58 PM PDT
The remains of four Americans, killed in an attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya have come home. Marine honor guards escorted the four caskets, covered in American flags, at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were on hand to pay their respects.

Even as that solemn ceremony took place, protests raged across the Muslim world, sparked by a movie which many say is insulting to Islam.

In Sudan Friday, police opened fire on protesters trying to break into the U.S. embassy. An elite Marine rapid response team is headed to Sudan.

At least two people are dead and 29 are injured in Tunisia after an attack on that U.S. embassy. Protesters scaled the embassy wall and set fire to several cars. Five thousand demonstrators showed up.

ABC7 News spoke with a member of the Tunisian Constituent Assembly, the body in charge of drawing up a new constitution for Tunisia. He was asked to explain the feeling on the streets of Tunis that led to Friday's violence.

Moncef Cheikhrouhou says free speech only goes so far.

"Internationally, the rule of the game is laid by everybody together," he said.

Cheikhrouhou, the deputy chair of Tunisia's finance committee, says the U.S. should consider limits on free speech.

"I think they should weigh the best interests of America," he said.

But at a mosque in San Francisco Friday afternoon, Muslims heading into prayers had a very different take.

"What is happening there is wrong, wrong by all means because our Islam is not like this, our Islam is peace," Zaki Soleiman said.

"Unfortunately the anger is wrong; the United States is supporting freedom of religion all over the world," Tom Saber said.

"We don't cross other religions we don't make fun of them so we have the right to have some respect," Anwar said.

But at the democracy rising conference at UC Berkeley Friday afternoon Egyptian expert Shibley Telhami says the anger at least in Cairo is less about a movie and more about other issues.

"Because of the Iraq War and the war in Lebanon and the war in Gaza, blaming the U.S. for support of Israel there is very pervasive anger toward the U.S. and it comes out anytime there is an episode of anger even before they know the facts," Telhami said.

Telhami says the grassroots uprising of the Arab Spring facilitated by social media has contributed to the spread of demonstrations and even violence.

"There isn't a Mandela figure that people can look up to and say Mandela says this is wrong," Telhami said. "There are a lot of people who say it's wrong we have an elected president in Egypt, Morsi, who's been saying it's wrong but how many people will listen to him."

Telhami says not many.

The Egyptian president was slow to condemn the violence in Cairo, which led Obama to say Egypt is neither an ally nor an enemy.


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