Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Wednesday sharply criticized President Barack Obama’s administration for its initial response to the attacks on United States diplomats in Egpyt and Libya this week, saying an early statement from the administration amounted to an “apology” for America’s values.
“An apology for America’s values is never the right course,” Romney said in Jacksonville, Fla., where he is campaigning.
The attacks have left Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans dead as they escaped the consulate building in Benghazi under attack from gunmen on Tuesday.
Romney’s harsh criticism was in response to the statement released by the American embassy in Egypt after the attacks on Tuesday but before the slaying of the diplomats in Libya were known.
The statement appeared to sympathize with the attackers, saying, “the Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”
It’s been reported that the attackers may be retaliating against Americans for an anti-Muslim film produced by an Israeli filmmaker who lives in California.
On Wednesday, Romney said “the administration was wrong to stand by its statement sympathizing with those who have breached our embassy in Egypt.”
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Muslim anger over perceived Western insults to Islam has erupted into dangerous explosions several times, most recently in Tuesday’s attacks against U.S. diplomatic posts in the Middle East in which U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
The violence, fueled mostly by religious zealots, reflects the tension between Muslims and the secular West that followed the September 11 attacks and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Here are some of the most serious incidents that have unfolded over the past decade:
The September 2005 publication by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad unleashed a wave of violent protests by Muslims, who believe any image of their religion’s founder is forbidden. Dozens of people were killed in weeks of protests that included violent attacks against Danish missions in Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and Lebanon. At least six people were killed in a June 2008 suicide bombing at the Danish embassy in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad. Al-Qaida claimed responsibility, citing anger over the cartoons. The Danish government described the Muslim backlash as the country’s worst international crisis since World War II.
VAN GOGH ASSASSINATION
Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, an outspoken critic of Islam whose film “Submission” criticized the treatment of Muslim women, was shot dead in November 2004 as he bicycled in the capital of the Netherlands, Amsterdam. A 26-year-old Dutch citizen of Moroccan origin, Mohammed Bouyeri, was convicted of the murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. Van Gogh’s assassination set off a wave of more than 170 small reprisal attacks against mosques and churches over the following weeks, according to a report by the Anne Frank Foundation and the University of Leiden.
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