While the world watched security forces battle protestors reacting violently to the controversial hate film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Thursday morning, a simultaneous tour de force occurred in cyberspace.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s official English language social media micro-blogging Twitter account @Ikhwanweb re-tweeted a message from the group’s deputy head, Khairat al-Shater, saying: “We are relieved none of @USEmbassyCairo staff were harmed & hope US-Eg relations will sustain turbulence of Tuesday’s events.”
This heartfelt tweet, however, was posted at the same time as the Muslim Brotherhood’s Arabic -language Twitter account and its official website were actively praising the protests, calling for a a million-man march on Friday.
A clear contradiction between the two accounts was highlighted by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo when it tweeted the sardonic response:
“Thanks. By the way, have you checked out your own Arabic feeds? I hope you know we read those too.”
The final tweet in the conversation, from @Ikhwanweb said: “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.”
The reticence and tardiness of President Mursi’s response to the protests elicited this response from U.S. President Obama:
“I don’t think that we [U.S.] would consider them [Egypt] an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy."
The well-known micro-blogger, Sultan al-Qassemi, was quick to post the iconic image of the USA’s national bird symbol, the bald eagle with a phrase mocking @Ikhwanweb’s apparent amnesia, as it seemingly did not acknowledge that the U.S. embassy sends its employees on an intensive language course before sending them on a tour in the Middle East.
Clearly, the differing opinions espoused on the English and Arabic language accounts were not missed by embassy staff.