Obama says Arab blasphemy protests are ‘natural’
President Barack Obama said he thinks Muslim protests against Western criticism of Islam are “natural.”
“The natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by extremists to see if they can also directly harm U.S. interests,” Obama said during an hour-long town-hall interview on the Spanish-language Univision channel.
Obama did not use the interview to champion the right of Americans to speak freely amid criticism and threats from Islamic advocates.
He did briefly mention free-speech, saying that democracy also includes “looking out for minority rights… respecting freedom of speech… [and] treating women fairly.”
Obama and his deputies have said the protests and attacks were not spurred by their post-2008 policy of deposing autocracies and boosting Islamist political parties.
Instead, they blame the continuing upsurge of protests and attacks against American and European embassies on a low-budget, California-made YouTube video that satirizes and blasphemes Islam’s primary prophet Muhammad.