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Mideast madness

"Mideast madness" Continued...

Issue: "Reassessing the genome," Oct. 6, 2012

Libyan president Mohammed el-Megarif disagreed with that analysis, telling NPR: "The idea that this criminal and cowardly act was a spontaneous protest that just spun out of control is completely unfounded and preposterous." Libyan officials say Stevens' murder bore the markings of an al-Qaeda attack, with militants using rocket launchers and assault weapons. In addition to Stevens, also killed were Sean Smith, a diplomat, Tyrone S. Woods, and Glen A. Doherty, both former Navy SEALs.

White House insistence that Innocence of Muslims "alone" (according to spokesman Jay Carney) is "solely to blame" (in the words of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) for the violence is likely to focus intensified scrutiny on anti-Islamic groups in the United States. That already includes the filmmaker Nakoula Basseley Nakoula but also "consultant" Steven Klein (see "Mystery men" at worldmag.com), and Coptic Christians living in the United States who reportedly supported it. For all the uproar surrounding the poorly made, crass film, few, at least in the Middle East, can actually see it: It's been blocked in Egypt and Libya, as well as a number of Gulf states.

Some observers expected a wave of further attacks on minority Christians living in the Middle East too, but a week after Stevens' murder those had not materialized. For Egyptians like Emad Mikhail the film could prove a further challenge in an already challenging region: "We need to respect people's feelings. Attacking their religious beliefs will only engender strife and violence."

—with reporting by Jamie Dean, J.C. Derrick, and Jill Nelson

Mindy Belz
Mindy Belz

Mindy travels to the far corners of the globe as the editor of WORLD and lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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