Early this month, a trailer of Innocence of Muslims, an anti-Islam film, was posted in YouTube which sparked protests from different parts of the globe – from Middle East, Africa, and Asia. The 14-minute video was a mockery of Islam’s prophet Mohammed who was shown to be “a homosexual son of undetermined patrimony, who rises to advocate child slavery and extramarital sex, for himself, in the name of religion” according to Wall Street Journal.
As a result, many Muslims around the world were enraged with the insult given to their messiah. The film triggered riots, protests and even violence in Libya, Egypt, and Yemen. The US ambassador to Libya, along with three diplomatic staff, was killed in a rocket attack. Protests had been spread to almost two dozen countries. American embassies across Middle East like in Egypt and Pakistan were also sieged by Muslim extremists
Now, why did they react like that?
It is understandable for a believer to be hurt when his religious icon was insulted and mocked. But is the reason enough for Muslims to react so violently, leading to more than 50 deaths on the first demonstration on September 11? Source: The Australian
The Anti-Islamic video portrayed Muslims as violent and dangerous people, and how did our Islam brothers reacted? By being violent and dangerous group who kill and explode innocent civilians and themselves for what they think as revenge for the mockery of their religion.
What’s with the furores?
Protests erupted on the first day the video was shown on YouTube and other international channels. But don’t we wonder where all those people rallying in the streets came from? Why do they look like an arranged and prepared attack? As if in an instant, protesters gathered immediately in front of US embassies and express their condemnation of the film which was allegedly produced in America.
I’ve read some articles regarding this concern already, and I have to agree with some columnists who analyzed that those violent demonstrations were only partly caused by the film. Most of us are already aware that there’s a growing discontent in the Arab world and it seems that those riots became their outlet, like a vent for their grievances and anger. Who would go to a “protest” armed with RPGs and other explosives anyway?
I can’t help but to think that those protests were political opportunities for some. Why? Yemeni activists, according to Jane Kinninmond, even confessed that they were happy to attack the US embassy there to send a warning that there’ll be danger in giving Yemeni political freedom.
Muslims in Southeast Asia:
I am from the Philippines and I can say that there are a lot of Muslims in my country. I even have some Muslim friends. There is a constant conflict between our Muslim insurgents and the government, but I am relieved to find out that our Muslim brothers in the southern part of the archipelago are mature enough to not over-react on the film.
Three hundred angry Muslims protested in the city of Marawi and burned US flags, but no violent attacks to American interests were reported. The country’s largest Muslim group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) appealed to all Muslims not to resort to violence.
“We cannot address violence with violence. Islam is peace and a peaceful protest is better that a violent protest to express disgust,” Von Al-Haq, a spokesman for the MILF, told the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
In a neighboring province of Cotabato, Muslim leaders and clerics call for their community to be sensible, rather than sensitive and emotional in dealing with the mounting indignation over the controversial “The Innocence of Muslims” film, which has been perceived as a means to malign Islam, John Unson, a newspaper columnist, added.
The world’s largest Muslim country is also keeping the peace amidst the growing tension in the Middle East. Susilo Yudhoyono denounced the movie which has cost many innocent civilians and Muslims lives. Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) staged protest before the American embassy, but it was peaceful. Indonesian police guarded the American posts heavily as they ensure the security of the foreign mission.
Prime minister Najib Razak refuted that all Muslims are extremists while home minister Hishammuddin Hussein advised the citizens to be “rational but firm and not over emotional to the point of national security is threatened.”
Innocence of Muslims – Are they innocents?
In a televised speech, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said the U.S. must be held accountable for the film, which was produced in the United States. The U.S. government has condemned the film.
“The ones who should be held accountable and boycotted are those who support and protect the producers, namely the U.S. administration,” Nasrallah said. He called for protests on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
He urged protesters to call on their leaders to express their anger too.
“We should not only express our anger at an American embassy here or there. We should tell our rulers in the Arab and Muslim world that it is ‘your responsibility in the first place’ and since you officially represent the governments and states of the Muslim world you should impose on the United States, Europe and the whole world that our prophet, our Quran and our holy places and honor of our Prophet be respected,” (from Captain James Davis)
But do they respect Catholics, Christians, and Jews? Captain James Davis had created a partial list of attacks made by Muslims last August.
8/5/2012 Maguindanao, Philippines: 1 killed, 11 injured; At least one woman is killed when Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement members overrun a Catholic village.
8/6/2012 Okene, Nigeria: 20 killed, 9 injured when Sharia proponents enter a church and open up on members with machine-guns, slaughtering at least nineteen, including the pastor.
8/6/2012 Maiduguri, Nigeria: A church pastor is shot to death in his home by two Islamists.
8/10/2012 Jolo, Philippines: A Christian man is gunned down by Abu Sayyaf terrorists on his way home from church.
8/10/2012 Kombul, Nigeria: 4 Christians are cut down in their homes by a Muslim raid on their village, 3 others injured.
8/13/2012 Gombe, Nigeria: A guard is killed during a Religion of Peace assault on a Catholic church, 1 other is injured.
8/14/2012 Sahiwal: A 14-year-old Christian girl is gang-raped and murdered by five Muslim men. [sick bastards, just like their prophet Mohammed]
8/14/2012 Asyut, Egypt: Salafis storm a Christian-owned store and murder the owner.
8/21/2012 Faisalabad, Pakistan: A Muslim perpetrator is strongly suspected by the minority community in the targeted torture and murder of a 14-year-old Christian boy.
So what does this mean? Shall we tolerate their violent attacks and protests whenever Islam and its icons are mocked, while they kill our fellow Christians and Jews?
I am no expert on Islam and regarding this new matter, but I see two ideologies that are concerned in this event: freedom of speech and religion.
Freedom of Speech
Like US, Philippines is also a democratic country which has a freedom to express what’s on one’s mind. Therefore, as I see it, the production of this video isn’t in any way a crime. We can say what we want to say about a certain topic because we have the freedom to do so.
Freedom of Religion
We can choose which religious faith to follow. We are free to express our own belief and follow the doctrines of the religious ideology that we have chosen.
However, in this case, I guess the balance of two freedoms has been tipped.
We are all aware of the limits that all kinds of rights have. Yes, we are free to express what we are feeling and/or thinking, but up to what point? As for me, the freedom of speech and/or opinion ends when a person or institution provokes hatred and violence that could spread between groups, states, and even religions. As for freedom of religion, one is free to practice his chosen belief provided that he respects the existence of other religions and understand that others follow different beliefs.
On the one hand, some might argue that limiting or censoring what one might say will be violating the very essence of the freedom that we have. Why shall we stop expressing our anti-hate speech for Muslims? Why shall we tolerate Islam fundamentalists’ activities? Why shall we allow them to continue ridiculing the divinity of Christ when they themselves react so cruelly and viciously even to an innocent comment about Islam?
What must be done:
We are now in a globalized world where one’s acts will definitely affect another. The issues with the Muslim extremists and the growing anti-Western sentiments have been with us for so long – way before I was even born!
So what shall we do?
There are lots of writings offering solutions on how we can move on from this ongoing situation. I have already included in my disclaimer earlier that I was far from expert on this, but I’d like to offer some suggestions.
First, what do we want? It might sound lame and came from a beauty pageant contestant, but don’t we all want peace? I agree with Elmar Bruk, chairman of the Commission on Foreign Affairs, that “We will not have peace in the word until we have peace between religions.” Don’t you agree?
There must not be arguments as to which religion is better, which prophet is real or fake, which believers look stupid. We all believe in something beyond us which must not be questioned by any, especially from of different faith. If we want others to respect our religion, we must respect theirs, too. With respect, comes no fighting. No struggle means peace. We can only have peace when we want it.
Second, we must reduce religious prejudice. I know that for some of us, this is a difficult thing to do. Whenever we see an Arab looking person, we tend to steer away from him in fear of Muslim tendencies. Why? We must know that not all Muslims are extremists and fundamentalists. Many Muslims are like you and me; they also want to live peacefully. So why don’t we gradually delete in our mentality that Muslims are bad, they carry explosives, and bomb almost anything, often without fear of including themselves in the blast? I guess if we all try to decrease our negative thinking to our Muslim brothers, they won’t feel defensive and aggressive as before.
Third, increase our religious tolerance. I know that as I’ve pointed out earlier, it seems unfair when they kill our people on the slightest provocation while some offend our Christian idols and belief. Still, I believe that we must still try to understand them. This doesn’t mean that we will allow them to bomb anything on a whim, but we must use different forms of pacific settlements to them.
Fourth, censorship. Yes, we have our freedom, but it comes with a responsibility. We should not abuse our freedom to hurt or provoke others and instead be sensitive for what others will feel. Furthermore, we must think ahead of the repercussions our action might produce. A single film might produce an uproar no one has ever seen.
Fifth, political leaders must always denounce anti-Muslim sentiments. They must lead their people to the right path of respecting other religions.
Lastly, but the most important I guess, is education. Educating people from different parts of the globe about the differences in religions will help a lot in their understanding of each other. Education fruits understanding and respect to different beliefs.