I am deeply saddened and outraged by the attacks, which led to the brutal murder of Ambassador Stevens and three of his staff members. While the details of that night are still developing, the dedication of Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues to the people of Libya is without question. It has been less than a year since Libya began its transition from Muammar Gaddafi’s dictatorship and Ambassador Stevens was part of America’s efforts to support a transition to a peaceful democracy.
Although havens for militants continue to exist, the reaction of Libya’s nascent leadership was to quickly condemn the attacks. In Cairo, the government, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, has taken a decidedly different approach.
President Morsi, scheduled to make his first visit to the United States in less than two weeks, waited almost a full day before making a statement. His timid condemnation of the attacks and decision to pursue legal action against the creators of an ambiguous YouTube video that is believed to have sparked the initial protest is yet another troubling trend as we see the hope of the Arab Spring cool into what some are now calling the Arab Fall.
As brutal dictators have fallen, they have been replaced by governments tied to Salifi extremists who do not believe in freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the fundamental rights that democratic societies value. Democracy and human rights are now being marginalized and minorities continue to live in fear.
Authorities in the region must denounce these senseless acts and commit to bringing those responsible for the deaths of our diplomats to justice. It is the responsibility of these countries to protect our embassies and there is absolutely no excuse for this type of violence. I have called for restrictions on foreign aid to Egypt in the past and encourage my fellow Members of Congress to reconsider our commitments moving forward, especially in this difficult economy.
We are fortunate to be citizens of a Nation that not only acknowledges, but also respects people of different faiths and walks of life. More than that, though, we will not tolerate threats to these freedoms and values. In the face of adversity, we have proven our strength, unwavering resolve and commitment to standing up for the values upon which this country was built.
I strongly condemn these horrific acts, and my thoughts and prayers go out to the families of these brave Americans killed while serving our country. We must remain steadfast with those who continue to work toward freedom, democracy and human rights for these countries. The people of Egypt and Libya, as well as their leadership, must work to end this violence and distance themselves from those that threaten the future of their nations.
Bilirakis is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House Homeland Security Committee.