Last week’s embassy riots in Egypt, Libya, and Yemen answered offensive speech with hate speech.

According to news media reports, these street mobs protested a YouTube video clip by a man in California that satirized the prophet Muhammad as a lecher. Christians saw parallels to The Last Temptation of Christ, a 1988 feature-length film that depicted Jesus Christ in a sexual tryst with Mary Magdalene.

Both movies scandalized large religious communities with outrageous claims about their most sacred leaders. In both cases, devout believers protested the blasphemy with bullhorns and street marches. They loudly voiced their objection to the offensive speech of the artists in question.

But last week’s protesters went farther; they burned American embassies and killed several embassy staffers in their wake. They tried to deny their opponents the right to be heard or even be present.

Informed observers cannot believe that these embassy hoodlums represent the Islamic community. We don’t know who they really represent, but they’ve used this amateur video as a pretext to oppose American influence in the Middle East. They’ve galvanized thousands of people with the rallying cry, “Silence the infidels! Take back our country!”

It’s a tactic used to great effect in other political arenas, such as the 2012 American Presidential race.