US Embassy Caves on Free Speech

An anti-free speech statement issued by the US embassy in Cairo wasn't enough to stop an angry mob from protesting perceived attacks on Islam in an American made film.

Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

Mainly ultraconservative protesters climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Egypt's capital Tuesday and brought down the American flag, replacing it with a black Islamist flag to protest a U.S.-produced film attacking the Prophet Muhammad. Hours later, armed men in eastern Libya also stormed the U.S. consulate there and set it on fire as anger spread.

It was the first time ever that the U.S. Embassy in Cairo has been breached and comes as Egypt is struggling to overcome months of unrest following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak's autocratic regime. U.S. officials said no Americans were reported harmed in the assaults in Cairo or the eastern city of Benghazi.