The U.S. embassy in Islamabad has produced an ad, intended to run in Pakistan, that attempts to soothe Muslim tempers over an online video denigrating Mohammed.
The ad, which is costing the State Department about $70,000 to run, differs little from a widely criticized statement by the U.S. embassy in Cairo earlier this month that sought to appease protestors in Egypt. Both the new State Department ad and the Egyptian embassy statement condemn the video and stress U.S. commitment to religious tolerance.
The Pakistan ad, titled “A message from the President of the United States Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,” shows President Obama declaring the United States “a nation that respects all faiths.” It also includes footage of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pleading, “the United States government had absolutely nothing to do with this video.”
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The ad fails to mention America’s commitment to tolerating free speech.
By showing such concern about the reaction of Pakistani Muslims, the Obama administration is arguably offering an implicit apology for the video.
The reaction by the administration raises questions about whether the government will try to appease those angered by the exercise of speech in America every time something offensive stirs an outcry in the Middle East – or whether the administration will take steps to limit First Amendment rights.