US ambassador in Morocco, a Minnesotan, sees no sign of unrest
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Minneapolis-based attorney currently serving as the U.S. ambassador to Morocco said Wednesday that violent protests sparked by an anti-Islam Internet video produced in the United States have not reached the north African country.
Sam Kaplan said while the Moroccan people regard the video as "disgusting and reprehensible," the country has not seen the kind of protests that have arisen elsewhere. The U.S. has temporarily closed its consulate in Indonesia's third-largest city because of ongoing protests. Last week, four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were killed during an assault on the consulate in Benghazi.
"Each country in this part of the world is different, and probably Morocco is the most different of all," Kaplan told MPR's Morning Edition, explaining why the turmoil hasn't reached Morocco. "This is not an unhappy population, this is not a population who has had a dictator at its head but rather a king that is respected by all."
Kaplan said the people of Morocco appreciate and value stability. The government is sophisticated and police maintain security, he said.
"We're very comfortable here," he said.
Kaplan's wife, Sylvia, said they recently met with students studying in Morocco and said they felt the same way.
"Nobody had any concerns at all," she said. "It's just not Morocco."
Sam Kaplan said the biggest protest the country has seen in recent days followed a soccer match in which the team from Casablanca lost. Groups of young people often protest various causes, but almost always peacefully, he said.
When asked about the U.S. further scaling back diplomatic activity in the wake of the anti-Islam video, Kaplan said it should be done carefully and slowly.
"We are dealing with fledgling democracies," he said. "We should not expect that in a short time they will move into a democratic system. We sometimes forget that after we became a nation it took a great many years."
- Morning Edition, 09/19/2012, 8:45 a.m.