In an effort aimed at solidarity, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday likened the weekend shooting of 20 people at an Arizona grocery story to the extremism faced in other countries, a comparison that some observers say may not live up to the facts of the case.
During a town hall meeting in Abu Dhabi Monday, Clinton, who's on a trip to Qatar, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, was speaking during a forum on women's issues when asked to respond to a question about why Arabs should be universally condemned for extremists like those on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Look we have extremists in my country," Clinton said. "A wonderful, incredibly brave young woman congress member, Congresswoman Giffords was just shot in our country. We have the same kinds of problems. So rather than standing off from each other, we should work to try to prevent the extremists anywhere from being able to commit violence."
Clinton added, "There will always be a small minority in any country that is loudmouthed and rude and ignorant that will say things that are just not either true or reflective of what we believe. And unfortunately, there's often a TV camera that is going while those people are saying those things."
The secretary then suggested that the key is to look beyond "media hype" for person-to-person relations that can help build partnerships between the Arab world and elsewhere.
Saturday's shooting outside a Tucson grocery story took the lives of six people and injured 14, including Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Despite heated speculation over the weekend ascribing motives to the alleged shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, it appears few reasons can be found to explain the attack.
Still, the international scene has glommed onto the unfolding debate in the U.S. In Great Britain, most of the reporting has noted the political rhetoric that some claim is an important element to consider in any analysis of the event.
Other reporting has taken a distinctly knee-jerk line critical of the United States and the "gun culture" that makes the shooting a distinctly American event. Still, others have noted that "lone assassins and mass murderers" have been targeting political figures across the European continent in recent years.
"Violence like this knows no boundaries," historian Michael Burleigh told Fox News. He said name-calling can get pretty nasty in Europe too.
"There is a lot of vitriol in the political system," he said.
In response to the British debate, one conservative editorial in the Telegraph-U.K. titled "The Arizona Shootings Were Like Kwanzaa Come Early for America's Liberal Fascists" noted that after the facts have unfolded, some liberals have turned from blaming conservative media figures to calling it senseless extremism like that seen in the assassination of a governor in Pakistan last week. But author James Delingpole said it is an awkward comparison.
"In Pakistan, Salmaan Taseer's killer was showered with flower petals by his many sympathizers. In the USA, Jared Loughner's actions have attracted universal condemnation from both left and right," Delingpole wrote.
Members of Congress, the Supreme Court and President Obama, who met with French President Nikolas Sarkozy on Monday, held a moment of silence in the morning to mark the tragedy.
During a photo-op with Sarkozy, the president said the nation is still "grieving and shocked" over the shooting in Arizona but the bravery demonstrated by those who jumped in to stop the shooter "speaks to the best of America." He said it's important to make sure the country pulls together in the time of crisis.
Maria Cardona, a former aide to Clinton said the president has "a terrific opportunity" to frame the discussion and become a "healer and mediator-in-chief."
But Sal Russo, chief strategist of the Tea Party Express, said the use of the Arizona case as an example of extremism in the United States is a "slippery slope" for the administration to take, and "a poor choice of words by the secretary of state."
"I see the point she was trying to make in trying to encourage people in the Middle East to take responsibility for all the extremism that is there but I think it's a sad commentary when you try to use an isolated, criminal element of somebody who was obviously mentally disturbed and suggest there's some society problem of extremism," Russo told Fox News.
"We don't have that kind of extremism. You can walk down the streets of the United States pretty safely everywhere. You can't do that in many parts of the world," he added.
Fox News' Greg Palklot contributed to this report.