Egyptians Breach U.S. Embassy in Anger Over Film

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Sept. 11 2012 8:00 PM

Libyans Set Fire to U.S. Consulate, Protesters Breach U.S. Embassy in Egypt in Anger Over Film

A vehicle sits smoldering in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate.
A vehicle sits smoldering in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi late on Tuesday.

Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images.

UPDATE: An American staff member of the U.S. consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi died after gunmen attacked the compound on Tuesday evening. An unspecified number of Americans were also reportedly injured, according to Reuters.

Tuesday, Sept. 11 at 6 p.m.: Anger over a movie that allegedly insults the Prophet Mohammed appears to be spreading. First, a group of protesters scaled the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and pulled down an American flag in what was the first time the U.S. Embassy in Cairo has ever been breached. Later, militants in Libya stormed the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city, and set it on fire to protest the video, reports the Associated Press.


It was not immediately clear what film the protesters were referring to, but the Washington Post points out that allegations of the movie had been in the Egyptian media for several days. The AP refers to "a video being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the U.S." that "depicts Muhammad as a fraud, showing him having sex and calling for massacres." It really isn't clear because the AP isn't giving many clues but it seems this might be the movie in question. The AP interviews a Sam Bacile, an American citizen who said he produced and directed the movie, and the video seems to be in his YouTube account.

Or it could be something else. A prestigious mosque in Egypt condemned a symbolic “trial” of the Prophet Mohammed that was organized by a U.S. group that included Terry Jones, the pastor who triggered riots in Afghanistan by threatening to burn the Quran. Reuters points to, where a “trial and execution” of Prophet Mohammed will be broadcast on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, which the group appears to have dubbed “International Judge Muhammad Day.”

When protesters took down the U.S. flag in the Cairo embassy, some tore it up and showed off pieces to the cameras. Others burned the remains outside the embassy grounds, reports Reuters. According to Egypt’s Ahram Online, no one appears to have been injured in the demonstration. A CNN producer on the ground says warning shots were fired, but it's not clear who did the firing.

Kristen Chick of the Christian Science Monitor reports that most of the protesters had never seen the film but had heard about it from religious leaders or read about it on social networks.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.



The Ebola Story

How our minds build narratives out of disaster.

The Budget Disaster That Completely Sabotaged the WHO’s Response to Ebola

PowerPoint Is the Worst, and Now It’s the Latest Way to Hack Into Your Computer

The Shooting Tragedies That Forged Canada’s Gun Politics

A Highly Unscientific Ranking of Crazy-Old German Beers


Welcome to 13th Grade!

Some high schools are offering a fifth year. That’s a great idea.


The Actual World

“Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.

Want Kids to Delay Sex? Let Planned Parenthood Teach Them Sex Ed.

Would You Trust Walmart to Provide Your Health Care? (You Should.)

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 9:42 PM Landslide Landrieu Can the Louisiana Democrat use the powers of incumbency to save herself one more time?
Continuously Operating
Oct. 22 2014 2:38 PM Crack Open an Old One A highly unscientific evaluation of Germany’s oldest breweries.
Dear Prudence
Oct. 23 2014 6:00 AM Monster Kids from poorer neighborhoods keep coming to trick-or-treat in mine. Do I have to give them candy?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 22 2014 4:27 PM Three Ways Your Text Messages Change After You Get Married
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 22 2014 5:27 PM The Slate Walking Dead Podcast A spoiler-filled discussion of Episodes 1 and 2.
Oct. 22 2014 11:54 PM The Actual World “Mount Thoreau” and the naming of things in the wilderness.
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 5:33 PM One More Reason Not to Use PowerPoint: It’s The Gateway for a Serious Windows Vulnerability
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 23 2014 7:30 AM Our Solar System and Galaxy … Seen by an Astronaut
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.