Thursday, February 12, 2015

  • Thursday, February 12, 2015
  • Elder of Ziyon
From Today's Zaman:
A 2012 letter in which US President Barack Obama asked then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to calm Muslims who were offended by a video because of its portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad and to prevent them from being a threat to American diplomats has been leaked by a hacker group that supports the Syrian regime.

The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) is a group of computer hackers that supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's administration. On their website,, the group posted a letter from Obama to Erdoğan dated Sept. 14, 2012. In the letter, which begins "Dear Tayyip," Obama voices his concerns about a possible attack on US diplomats following the release of a short video titled “Innocence of Muslims.” The video has anti-Islamic undertones and it is perceived as denigrating the Prophet Muhammad.

When the 14-minute-long video was uploaded to the Internet on Sept. 11, 2012 in Egypt, it led to large-scale protests that were also replicated around the world. As a result of clashes with police, about 100 people were injured and 50 people died.
The fact that Obama sent Erdogan a letter was reported at the time, here we see the full contents:

Washington, D.C.
September 14, 2012

Dear Tayyip,

I understand you are traveling between Ukraine and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and it is just after midnight in Washington.

I am writing to you because given what has happened in the last two days, there is a very real danger that there could be an escalation of violence on Friday that would be very damaging to our shared interests.

I am sure you are familiar with the video that has offended so many people around the world. Let me be clear that the US government had nothing to do with it. We reject its message, which entirely contradicts my personal views and the values that America stands for.

As you know, we respect Islam, and we are opposed to efforts to offend Islam by defaming the Prophet Mohammed. But we cannot block this video; it is not possible in this age of technology, and we are bound by our commitment to free expression.

Nevertheless, our embassies across the Middle East are at risk and we are deeply concerned that after Friday prayers our people and installations in the region could be vulnerable to attack. We must not let extremists use this video as a pretext to attack America, or our other allies and partners.

I believe that you are one of the most credible voices in the Islamic world today, and that if people hear from you calling for calm and condemning violence it will have a real impact.

I would ask that you speak out immediately and forcefully before people go to Friday prayers today.

It will be important to emphasize that diplomatic personnel and facilities must be respected and that the way to defend religion is through peace rather than violence.

As people of faith, we have an obligation to prevent the people who created this video from provoking a cycle of violence that violates the values that undergird our faith.

I thank you my friend, and I look forward to talking again in a few days’ time when you are at home.


I don't have a problem with Obama sending Erdogan this letter. American lives were at stake and writing letters like that (Obama also reached out to other Muslim leaders) is necessary.

I don't mind that he called the hateful madman "one of the most credible voices in the Islamic world today." He needs to compliment him in order to influence him to do the right thing.

What bothers me is Obama's seeming unease with free speech.

"As you know, we respect Islam, and we are opposed to efforts to offend Islam by defaming the Prophet Mohammed. But we cannot block this video; it is not possible in this age of technology, and we are bound by our commitment to free expression. "

Barack Obama first says that he is opposed to free speech that attacks Islam. Then he says that even if he tried to block the video he wouldn't succeed because so many people have copies.

And then he says "we are bound by our commitment to free expression." He's making it sound  like an onerous rule that he is forced to uphold because it is in that pesky Constitution, not the bedrock of a free society.

Indeed, the White House “reached out to YouTube to call the Muhammad video to their attention and ask them to review whether it violates their terms of use,” as was reported at the time.

One would hope that the President would prioritize freedom of expression, even when it is offensive. In this case, Obama sucked up to a Middle East tyrant who is dead set against freedom of speech.


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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