“We cannot disguise hostility towards any religion behind the pretence of liberalism” - Barack Obama, Cairo Speech 2009
President Obama has a historic opportunity to demonstrate that the words uttered at the Cairo speech were not the usual rhetoric of a politician seeking popularity and votes, by taking swift action against the few anti-Islamic extremists who produced this satirical, and profoundly offensive, anti-Islamic movie (Innocence of Muslims). And consequentially, endangered the lives of innocent Americans abroad; unfortunately four Americans including the ambassador in Libya have already perished; igniting an emotional issue will generate emotional response with unpredictable consequences.
An open condemnation has to be followed by further actions to show that US government policy will not tolerate crass insults hurled against an entire community, in the same way that the world does not tolerate racial slurs. Hence, the crucial question is - can the US government take the lead in the Western world and demonstrate that it will not continue to allow the propagation of hostility towards Islam and Muslims, behind the pretence of liberalism, or will it continue to submit to the liberal bullies who are waving the hypocritical flag of free speech?
The open hypocrisy of free speech is illustrated by the many examples; persecution of Julian Assange is a classic example of America not liking free speech, when it is on the receiving end. There are cartoons circulating on the internet depicting the censoring of legitimate criticism of Israel and Zionism, whilst permitting gratuitous insults of the Prophet of Islam and its followers, using the pretext of free speech, as if free speech has no sensible and consistent boundaries. If it is acceptable to insult Islam and Muslims in the name of free speech, then why can’t people use the same criteria not to insult, but to question the magnitude of the holocaust and the way it is being exploited by Israel to annihilate the innocent Palestinians? And similarly, the far right would also be entitled to air their views based on racial purity and superiority, according to the boundaries of free speech which are defined currently.
Looking at the images of Muslims rioting in the streets brings back memories of Salman Rushdie and the Danish Cartoons, but it also raises another point; why do the Jews and the Christians never riot against some Muslim writing something pejorative about the Bible using the pretext of free speech. Either Muslims cannot write in that style or they choose not to do so, having higher standards! It’s likely to be the latter as Islam categorically forbids defamation of anyone, let alone a Prophet of God. Any Muslim writing something awful as that should be taken to task by the Muslim community themselves. Another explanation given for the lack of response when Jews and Christians are attacked in a similar light is, they have moved up the civilisation ladder, which implies the one who is insulting is right and the one being insulted should accept such treatment. This is a twisted way of looking at right and wrong.
Defamation is recognised as a crime in any society, even in the West with its tabloid journalism! This should also be applicable when the person being slandered is deceased, thus unable to defend his position; in such cases where the slander is in the form of gratuitous insults, it would be reasonable to describe the action as the height of cowardice. This summarises the anti-Islamic poison that floods the internet daily, circulated by a small group of cowards with links to the slimy Zionists, fanatical Christian-Zionists and the hateful far right political factions in the West.
In envy, these faceless cowards, often hiding behind pseudonyms, vomit their insults online, as they could never hope to gain even a tiny fraction of the following and influence of Prophet Mohammed (saw); who has been proclaimed by many independent observers as one of the most influential persons in human history.
A cursory glimpse gives the impression that it is a very low budget edition of the “Life of Brian”, and the motive behind this film is obvious - it was produced to provoke an angry response and unfortunately, the innocent Muslims being politically naïve and emotional, gave these anti-Islamic extremists what they were looking for. Notoriety can be a profitable business if you play your cards right. How many people knew Salman Rushdie before the Satanic Verses? Using similar shock tactics others have tried to gain fame and opportunities.
The pattern is the same; the Muslims will soon go back to sleep until there is another provocation in the future. It is understandable that Muslims are frustrated; their respective government often fails to take any concrete steps on such matters. By summoning the US ambassador for an explanation, followed by a joint broadcast condemning this film would have quelled the anger substantially, and minimised the violent backlash. Nevertheless, blaming the US government is wrong, as they were not remotely connected to this issue, and a violent and indiscriminate response isolates the entire country, and creates more antagonism between the two civilisations.
It is not in America’s interest to needlessly inflame the Muslim world, and likewise it is not in the interest of the Islamic world to wage a conflict with the US. The only party that would benefit by setting the entire Muslim world against the West is Israel; many of the Islamophobes like the neo-cons have close affiliation with the Zionists. Many a times I have personally seen anti-Islamic messages peddled by groups claiming to have a Christian identity, and once you prod them, the Bible and the spiritual dimension is non-existent, and many individuals have Jewish sounding names.
However, a sense of frustration and anger towards the US and the West amongst the Muslim masses can be understood, because they permit anti-Islamic message at various levels in the mass media and much more gratuitous insults online. Often Islamophobes are given a platform and accolades. Equally, the Muslims should understand the political dimension and rise above it. Moreover, the spiritual dimension should be noted by examining the Prophetic response to individuals hurling insults. His initial response was always to show kindness in the face of insults and there are numerous examples of this. And the attacks on the US embassies and properties and the killing of the four Americans in Libya including the ambassador would have offended the Prophet (saw) as they were innocent, he did not attack the ambassador of the belligerent apostate, Musaylima.
Yamin Zakaria (email@example.com)
Published on 26/09/2012