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International Update: Current Issues in the Middle East

If you have been paying attention to the news at all this past week you probably know that protests have engulfed the Middle East and beyond. While many people see the destruction these protests are causing to US interests abroad, particularly our embassies, many have no idea why these protests are actually happening and what their implications are to the United States and the world.

These protests started because of a movie which was made in America that criticized the Islamic Prophet Muhammed, claiming he was a homosexual and a child rapist. For those with little or no background on Islam, Muslims revere the Prophet Muhammed and take attacks on his life or lifestyle very seriously. While the majority of Muslims is incredibly peaceful people and will do nothing but speak out against these attacks, there is unfortunately a small minority of people intent on causing destruction and havoc on anything or anyone they deem is behind these slanderous attacks. This is how the protests escalated to what you see on your daily nightly news.

The protests first started in Cairo, Egypt, at The American Embassy. After the past year and half of protesting after the January 25th Revolution which catapulted the Arab Spring into the international arena, Egyptians have gotten pretty good at it. While Egyptians were able to breach the walls of the Embassy, originally no one was injured. However, as the Egyptians continued their protests during the week, two Egyptian casualties have been reported as the protesters are going against the Egyptian police who are intent on keeping foreign interests in their country secure. It is extremely important for Egypt to keep American interests safe and secure, as America gives Egypt approximately two billion dollars in aid annually. Failure to protect the embassy and its staff could jeopardize this aid so desperately needed.

While the protests started in Cairo, the real news story was the protests that rocked Libya. Unfortunately, the American ambassador to Libya and three embassy staff members were killed when the consulate in Benghazi was attacked. At first glance, it looked to the outside world as protests that took a turn for the absolute worst. After further analysis, it was determined that a terrorist group used the protests as a shield to carry out the planned attacks against Ambassador Stevens and the embassy staff. Days later, Al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the deaths of the embassy staff as retaliation for having one of its leaders killed.

The protests later spread to other countries, like Yemen, Lebanon, Tunisia, Sudan, and Afghanistan. While many people see the destruction taking place on the news and judge the perpetrators, an even larger group is taking to social media sites like Fcaebook and Twitter to let the world know that they condone the movie and the violence that has happened as a result of it. The pictures first started from a peaceful protest in Benghazi where Libyans held up signs saying they were sorry to the American people, this violence was not what Islam or their beloved prophet Muhammed teaches. Other signs just said things like “sorry”, or “Benghazi is against terrorism”. These messages quickly spread all over the world and got answers from the American people with signs that said, “Sorry people of Islam. This hateful video does not represent America or Christianity!” Unfortunately, these stories are not picked up by mainstream media because violence and bloodshed is what sells, not peace and hope.

While many people question why, still many question, what’s next? This movie will definitely start a debate on free speech and what categorizes it with regards to blasphemy. It will be interesting to see what transpires from such heartbreak, but until then, we can only hope for a peaceful end to these protests.

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