CAIRO (AP) — The snark is flying between the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and the Muslim Brotherhood in a Twitter spat that erupted in the wake of an assault on the mission by protesters in the Egyptian capital.
The sarcastic exchange Thursday gave a "frenemies" tone to relations that have been strained by the Tuesday night action. In the assault, hundreds of protesters angry over an anti-Islam film climbed up the wall of the embassy in downtown Cairo, entered the grounds, pulled down the American flag and replaced it with a black, Islamist banner. Security forces did nothing to stop them.
The embassy's tweets implied that the Brotherhood, whose longtime member Mohammed Morsi is Egypt's new president, has been sending mixed messages, fueling public anger over the movie.
It started when Ikhwanweb, the Twitter page of the Muslim Brotherhood, retweeted a message in English from the group's deputy head, Khairat el-Shater.
"We r relieved none of (at)USEmbassyCairo staff were harmed & hope US-Eg relations will sustain turbulence of Tuesday's events."
"Thanks," the embassy replied. "By the way, have you checked out your own Arabic feeds? I hope you know we read those too."
"We understand you're under a lot of stress," came the Ikhwanweb retort, "but still it will be more helpful if you point out exactly the Arabic feed of concern."
"Guys guys! stop! take it outside please..." came the plea from Abdelrahman Ghareeb, one of many tweeters who weighed in in amusement over the exchange.
There was no immediate counter-tweet from the embassy.
The Brotherhood has put out statements in Arabic and English saying the breaching of the grounds was unacceptable, while insisting Egyptians have the right to demonstrate peacefully over the film, which it strongly denounced. It has also urged the U.S. to prevent any showings of the film, which denigrates Islam's Prophet Muhammad — reflecting the demand of many of the protesters.
Tuesday's protest, which was not called by the Brotherhood, was dominated by ultraconservative Islamists.
The U.S. has seemed impatient with Morsi's response to the violence. The Islamist president made no public comment beyond a vague Facebook posting until Thursday, after he spoke with President Barack Obama. He then condemned the attack while also harshly criticizing the movie.
"We condemn strongly ... all those who launch such provocations and who stand behind that hatred," Morsi said, adding that he had asked Obama "to put an end to such behavior."