A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Cairo Embassy Attack

The attack on the US Embassy in Cairo today, and the raising of a Jihadist flag (a black flag with the Muslim shahada), raises a lot of questions. The supposed provocation — a reputed anti-Islamic film about the Prophet — obviously has no official US support and appears to have been used to rally popular fury; in fact it seems to be a fringe product which will now draw far more attention than it otherwise would have. The identity of all the attackers is not yet clear, but Muhammad al-Zawahiri (brother of Ayman) and other radical Salafis are claiming credit.

I'll have more if more becomes known, but it seems likely that this will harm the image of Muslims in US opinion far more than a fringe film could have done. The fact that a US flag was burned raises questions about the Embassy's protection, both by Egyptian police and the Marine contingent. It appears that Egypt's Salafis — who have also stormed the Israeli Embassy and tried to storm Syria's — are testing their strength.

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