Egypt's Islamist president tells embassy to take legal action in U.S. against makers of Mohammed film; Update: I don't consider Egypt an ally, says Obama

I wonder if he knows that there’s no legal action available to him (yet) and is simply grandstanding for the locals’ sake or if he actually thinks he can sue to shut this thing down. Silly Morsi: There won’t be a blasphemy exception added to the First Amendment for critiques of Islam for another, oh, 10-20 years at least, I figure. Although if the Pentagon pushes really hard on national-security grounds, who knows how fast change might come?

Morsi’s silence on the embassy mob is deafening:

WhiIe Egypt’s prime minister called Tuesday’s incident “regrettable” and unjustified, President Mohamed Morsy condemned the anti-Muslim film that incited the protesters.

Morsy made a reference to Egypt’s duty to protect diplomatic missions and its opposition to unlawful protesters, but did not mention or criticize those who stormed the embassy.

“The presidency condemns in the strongest terms the attempt of a group to insult the place of the Messenger, the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and condemns the people who have produced this radical work,” the president said in a statement posted on his Facebook page. “The Egyptian people, both Muslims and Christians, refuse such insults on sanctities.”

His statement went on to say that the Egyptian government respects the right to free expression, a common Orwellian flourish whenever Islamists call for cartoons or films or books insulting the faith to be banned. Marc Lynch frets that the Brotherhood’s silence is negligent insofar as it might alienate the U.S. government, and wonders if they’re caught in a political trap where they can’t apologize for the embassy mob or else the Salafists will demagogue them as being sellouts to the Great Satan. I think David Frum’s closer to the mark:

More serious is the exploitation by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president of the incident as support for anti-Islam blasphemy laws. It’s important to understand that Morsi is concerned with Egyptian, not American, laws. Morsi is taking a page from the 1979 Khomeini playbook, fabricating an international incident to mobilize religious passions as a weapon for his political grouping against more secular blocs in Egyptian society – the Egyptian military very much included.

Yeah, I think Morsi and his advisors are savvy enough to understand that, once you’re an official “ally” of the United States, the White House will let you get away with all sorts of Islamist nutbaggery. In fact, the nuttier you are, the more eager the White House is to retain you as an “ally”: Better to have you behaving horribly while inside our orbit, where we can theoretically exercise some sort of restraint on you, than let you spin entirely out of it and run wild across the region. (The ultimate example of that farcical reasoning is, of course, Pakistan.) So yeah, why not let a mob terrorize American diplomats on 9/11? And why bother apologizing? We’re not going to risk a new Egyptian/Israeli war by cutting off aid from Cairo entirely and Morsi knows it, so he feels fully entitled to tell us implicitly to kiss his ass. And meanwhile, as Lynch and Frum both note, Morsi earns cred with the swaths of Islamists in Egypt’s electorate. The Libyan government and even some Libyan citizens showed remorse today for the attack on the consulate in Benghazi, but Libya needs us more than we need it. Not so Egypt. That’s a key difference in the two countries’ reactions, I think.

Exit question: Which western nation will be the first to appease the rising Islamist bloc in the Middle East by reinstituting anti-blasphemy laws for Islam? It won’t be us, I think; despite the best intentions of cretinous academics, there are too many constitutional and ideological roadblocks to abridging free speech that dramatically in the U.S. A better bet would be Canada, but the “human rights” Star Chamber that’s tormented people like Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant has gotten enough bad press over the last few years that I’m thinking Canadians might now think twice about new restrictions. No, I’m going to put my money on the UK. They’ve got just the right mix, I think, of surveillance-state paranoia and sweaty multicultural dogmatism (replete with robust hate-crime prosecutions) to give an anti-blasphemy regime a go. I’ll leave you with this from today’s op-ed page of the Guardian, a leading light of British “progressivism”:

Some people will want to defend the [Mohammed] film as critical of an idea, or of a belief. But I don’t think that will do. No Muslim could think of Muhammad as he is portrayed in the film, and very few can suppose that Islam commands them to behave the way the Muslims in the film do. The beliefs criticised are entirely imaginary. If any other group but Muslims were the target this would be obvious at once.

This film is purely and simply an incitement to religious hatred. It stokes hatred in both of its intended audiences – Christians and Jews in the US, and Muslims in the wider world. If jihadi videos are banned in this country, and their distributors prosecuted, the same should be true of this film and for the same reasons.

Update: I was surprised yesterday when he snubbed Netanyahu, and now I’m surprised again — although I think there’s a common thread that explains both reactions.

Is The One throwing Egypt under the bus, and right after I made that nifty Pakistan comparison up top, too? Well, no. He’s putting some distance between himself and Morsi now because Americans are, understandably, righteously PO’d about what happened yesterday in Cairo and Benghazi, and no amount of media caterwauling about Romney’s gaffes is going to change that. O snubbed Bibi because a war with Iran could wreak havoc with his reelection bid; he’s snubbing Morsi now for the same reason, because he knows that Romney’s “apology tour” critique of Hopenchange could hurt him badly if it gains traction. And one way for it to gain traction would be to act chummy with Egypt at a moment when they still haven’t properly apologized for the Cairo embassy mob. Egypt will be an “ally” again once he’s safely reelected, rest assured.