Welcome to a second week of American diplomatic outposts in Muslim nations living under siege. Today, the news comes from Karachi, Pakistan, where the military had to respond to the American consulate to keep it from being overrun by rioters. One died in the melee and “dozens” injured, the New York Times reports:
One person was killed and dozens of people were injured when anti-American protesters tried to storm the American Consulate in the southern port city of Karachi and clashed for several hours with the police and paramilitary troops on Sunday evening, rescue workers and police officials said.
The outbreak of violence came after days of peaceful demonstrations in Pakistan against the release of a video mocking the Prophet Muhammad. Pakistani officials had increased security in all major cities before Friday Prayer services, which have in the past served as flash points for protests, and until Sunday, calm had prevailed. The American Embassy here said in a message posted Sunday evening on Twitter that “all American personnel are safe and accounted for at U.S. Consulate, Karachi.” …
The demonstration on Sunday was spearheaded by two groups of Shiites, a minority in Pakistan, which had urged demonstrators to march “toward” the American Consulate.
The police responded by blocking the road that leads to the American Consulate with concrete barriers and shipping containers on Sunday afternoon. Then, as the march neared, the police fired tear gas canisters into the crowd. That failed to contain waves of angry demonstrators, who grew increasingly agitated, witnesses said.
The police and Rangers, a force controlled by the Interior Ministry, then fired shots into the air as demonstrators rushed through the clouds of tear gas, trying to reach the outer boundary wall of the heavily fortified consulate building. Water cannons were also used on the protesters, who began hurling stones.
So what was the message? We’ll get to that in a moment. Meanwhile, Iranian state media is promoting an effort by a “religious foundation” to increase the bounty on Salman Rushdie’s head, after all these years:
An Iranian religious foundation has increased its reward for the killing of British author Salman Rushdie, in response to a U.S.-made film that mocks the Prophet Muhammad, sparking protests across the Muslim world.
Rushdie, an Indian-born British novelist who has nothing to do with the film, was condemned to death in 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s late leader, over his novel “The Satanic Verses,” saying its depiction of the Prophet Muhammad was blasphemous.
Khomeini’s fatwa – or religious edict – was condemned in the West as incitement to murder and an assault on freedom of speech, but a wealthy Iranian religious organization has offered a large reward to anyone carrying it out and decided to increase the bounty amid the furor over the online film.
“I am adding another $500,000 to the reward for killing Salman Rushdie, and anyone who carries out this sentence will receive the whole amount immediately,” said Hassan Sanei, the foundation’s head, in a statement carried by the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA).
In case anyone wonders, the bounty is now up to $3.3 million — for a novel written nearly 25 years ago. When the book got published, radical Islamists started riots around the world, which sounds rather familiar this month.
Let’s get back to the message. The Times includes this paragraph at the end of its report on the riot in Karachi:
Protesters held placards and shouted slogans against the United States government. One placard read, “O Obama, we are all Osama.” Another placard read, “Blasphemy is not freedom of expression, and its sentence is death.”
The message from Karachi, Iran, and the burning embassies in Arab nations is that radical Islamists reject freedom of speech and religious expression entirely. They want to impose dhimmitude on the rest of the world, just like they did in 1988 when Rushdie’s novel was published, just like they did on 9/11, and just like they always have. Pretty speeches in Cairo won’t change that, and sending out messages condemning the “denigration” of religious belief as an “abuse” of free speech won’t change it, either. In fact, it just encourages more of this response in the long run.