“The message we have to send, I think, to the Muslim world is, we expect you to work
with us to keep our people safe,” Obama said in an interview with late night talk show host David Letterman.
“In this part of the region, as they emerge, into a new form of government, part of what they’re going to have to do is to recognize that democracy is not just casting a ballot, it’s respecting freedom of speech and tolerating people with different points of view,” Obama continued, according to pool reports. “And it means that you’ve got to make sure that you never have any excuses for the kind of violence against innocents we saw last week, and that’s a message that I’ve sent very clearly to the leaders of various countries, and we expect their full cooperation, because that’s the only way the international order works.”
Republicans and Democrats have expressed outrage over images of protesters tearing down the U.S. flag at the Cairo embassy and over President Mohamed Morsi's weak response.
White House spokesman Jay Carney last week said Obama spoke with Morsi and was “very clear” that “our mutual obligations include the protection of diplomats.”
“Our first job is obviously to make sure that we’re reinforcing security at these embassies, that we’re fully investigating what happened and bringing these murderers to justice; that’s our number one priority,” Obama told Letterman. “But the broader issue here, is there’s a lot of change that’s taking place in the middle east and we as Americans always stand on the side of democracy, we want people to have opportunity to determine their own fates, their own destinies.”
Echoing a message sent by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week, Obama said the US had nothing to do with the production of the controversial video. On Tuesday he called the video “offensive,” but said that’s “never an excuse for violence.”