US Embassy Breach in Cairo Sparks An Amusing Twitter War With the Muslim Brotherhood

Let it never be said that U.S. embassy officials don’t have a bit of bite in them. 

The U.S. embassy in Cairo released a statement before the attacks on embassies in Cairo and Benghazi, which among other things, deplores, “continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”

The statement has been attacked by several Republican leaders, including presidential candidate Mitt Romney and was also disavowed by President Obama. The statement, as it turns out, was the work of one staffer who ignored explicit instructions not to release a statement.

However, judging from the U.S. embassy-Cairo’s Twitter feed, it would appear they are not taking the criticism lightly. In a series of three tweets, the US embassy responded with, “1) Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. 2) Of course we condemn breaches of our compound, we’re the ones actually living through this. 3) Sorry, but neither breaches of our compound or angry messages will dissuade us from defending freedom of speech AND criticizing bigotry.”

As of hitting back at critics in the U.S. wasn’t enough the embassy had a testy and amusing exchange with ikhwanweb, which is the official twitter handle for the Muslim Brotherhood in English.

  

Ikhwanweb later responded with, “@usembassycairo we understand you're under a lot of stress, but it will be more helpful if you point out exactly the Arabic feed of concern.”

It is not clear which Twitter feed the embassy was referring to, though Bloomberg reports the Brotherhood’s Arabic feed included messages that praised the protests, such as “Egyptians revolt for the Prophet’s victory in front of U.S. embassy.”

One feed, Ikhwanonline.com has several tweets about the matter, but most are solely condemnations of the film and demands to prosecute its director. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party has its own feed, and a few do stress that Americans and Israelis were involved in the production, but another tweet also mentions an Egyptian was involved in its production. This feed does condemn the violence, but a full day after the death of Ambassador Stevens. However, it is likely the embassy is also pointing out that the Muslim Brotherhood has been known to put out differing statements on events in English and Arabic, most famously on the death of Osama bin Laden.

One thing is certain, whoever runs the U.S. embassy in Cairo’s Twitter feed is snarky and not about to take any criticism without giving back a little of its own.

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Jonathan Bertman

Jonathan Bertman holds a MA in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Edinburgh. He is interested in politics and economics in the Middle East and North Africa.

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