Senator Jon Kyl suggested that an initial statement by the Cairo embassy, apparently intended to tamp down tensions over a video mocking the Prophet Mohammed, amounted to an apology to the demonstrators who later stormed the compound, ripping up the American flag and replacing it with a black banner.
“It’s like the judge telling the woman who got raped, ‘You asked for it because of the way you dressed,’” Kyl said, according to Roll Call newspaper.
“That’s the same thing. ‘Well, America, you should be the ones to apologize, you should have known this would happen, you should have done – what, I don’t know – but it’s your fault that it happened.’”
Protesters stormed the embassy and burned the American flag on Tuesday, while an attack on the US mission in the Libyan city of Benghazi left the US ambassador and three other Americans dead.
The US embassy in Cairo issued a statement condemning “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims, as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”
Kyl’s criticism was similar to that of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who blasted the Obama administration for the embassy statement.
“It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks,” Romney said late Tuesday, ignoring the fact that the embassy’s release came hours before protesters stormed the compound.
Few US lawmakers openly defended the comments by Romney, who faced withering criticism for launching what appeared to be a political attack against President Barack Obama in the midst of an unfolding national security crisis.
The comments by Kyl, who is not running for re-election, came just three weeks after Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin unleashed a firestorm by declaring that a woman’s body can prevent conception in cases of “legitimate rape.”