According to the AP, Egyptian prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for several American citizens connected with the production and distribution of the YouTube video, “The Innocence of Muslims,” that has sparked violent protests in that country and throughout the Muslim world. Egypt charges the defendants — who include the video’s maker and publicist, assorted Coptic Orthodox Christians, and Florida pastor Terry Jones — with “harming national unity, insulting and publicly attacking Islam, and spreading false information.” Some of the charges carry the death penalty.
What happens now? Some reports indicate that Egypt has contacted Interpol, the international police cooperation organization in Lyon, France, for help in executing the warrants. In a press release, however, Interpol says it has not received any such request and that, in any case, its Constitution forbids it from undertakings “of a political, military, religious or racial character.” The strong implication: don’t expect us to help. The US and Egypt have an extradition treaty that dates back to Ottoman times, but, according to this unofficial version on the web, the treaty doesn’t cover offenses of the sort Egypt alleges here. Anyway, it’s inconceivable that the State Department would assist Egypt any more than Interpol, or that American courts would ever allow these defendants to be transferred to Cairo. Observers expect Egypt will end up trying them in absentia.