29 October, 2020

Blog

Islam Blasphemy Riots Now Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

By James Kirchick –

James Kirchick

The protests against controversial film “Innocence of the Muslims” follow a pattern familiar since the days of the Satanic Verses fatwa, says James Kirchick. And so do the reactions of many western liberals

By James Kirchick

The United States is the world’s undisputed king of culture. No country’s film industry can rival Hollywood; no nation’s musical artists sell more records worldwide than America’s. Boasting such a diverse, pulsating, frequently vulgar and often blasphemous entertainment industry, not everyone — including many Americans — is going to be pleased with what they see and hear coming out of the United States. Films ranging from Martin Scorcese’s The Last Temptation of Christ (which depicted the lustful fantasies of the Christian savior) to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ (which depicted Jesus’ crucifixion as essentially Jewish-orchestrated) have outraged Christians and Jews, respectively. The latest Broadway smash hit, The Book of Mormon, mercilessly ridicules the foundation myths of America’s newest and fastest-growing major faith.

In none of the controversies surrounding these productions, however, did the producers fear for their lives, nor did US government officials feel it incumbent upon themselves to apologise to the world’s Christians, Jews or Mormons for the renderings of artists. This straightforward policy of respecting the autonomy of the cultural sphere was amended earlier this week, however, when a branch of the United States government officially apologised to the world’s Muslims over a film for which the word “obscure” is too generous.

On 11 September, 12:11 PM Cairo time, the Embassy of the United States to Egypt released the following statement:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

The “misguided individuals” in question were the producers of the now-infamous YouTube flick, The Innocence of Muslims, a crude, low-budget film which portrays the Prophet Muhammad in a none too pleasant light. Much about The Innocence of Muslims remains a mystery; its now-debunked origin story, that of an “Israeli Jew” filmmaker who “financed [it] with the help of more than 100 Jewish donors,” had all the makings of anti-Semitic disinformation campaign.

Several hours after this statement was released on the Embassy’s website, about 2000 Salafist protestors gathered outside the US Embassy, breached the compound’s walls, took down the American flag, and replaced it with the a black banner inscribed with the Islamic profession of faith: “There is no God but God and Muhammad is his prophet.” When, in the aftermath of this outrage, some American conservative bloggers began criticizing the Embassy’s statement as an apology for a specific exercise — however crude — of the constitutionally-protected right to free speech, the Cairo Embassy’s Twitter account defiantly released the following:

Shortly after 10:00 P.M. that evening, the campaign of Mitt Romney, Republican presidential nominee, released the following statement:

I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

This riposte was embargoed until midnight, 11 September being a day that American politicians exempt from their usual partisan sniping. Yet, shortly after releasing the statement to the media, the Romney campaign lifted the embargo. Heightening the controversy was the revelation that Islamist militants had attacked the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya (it would not be confirmed until early next morning that the Ambassador, Chris Stevens, had been killed). Suddenly, an issue not normally considered American presidential campaign material — freedom of speech — had become a political football.

Since then, the liberal chattering classes, as well as ostensibly unbiased news reporters, have universally condemned Romney for “politicising” a national tragedy (just watch this press conferenceWednesday morning in which reporter after reporter asks the Republican candidate, incredulously, how he could deign to stoop so low). The main line of attack against Romney is essentially a defense of the US Embassy’s original statement, which, in the words of Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, “came out before the attacks, was issued by career diplomats in Cairo without clearance from Washington, and was disavowed by the White House.” This line was echoed in a New York Times news story, which reported that “The embassy’s statement was released in an effort to head off the violence, not after the attacks, as Mr. Romney’s statement implied.”

“But the fact is that the ‘apology’ to our ‘attackers’ was issued before the attack!” pronouncedMichael Tomasky of The Daily Beast. Josh Marshall, proprietor of the popular Talking Points Memo blog, declared that the two-sentence statement from the Romney campaign was reason enough to disqualify the former Massachusetts Governor from the presidency. “Romney, or folks writing in his name at his campaign, claimed that the administration’s first response to the attacks was to issue a press release condemning the anti-Islam film which had helped trigger the attack,” Marshall wrote. “In fact, according to all available press reports and the account of the State Department, the press release in question came from the US Embassy in Egypt and preceded the attacks” (emphasis original).

The New York Times, America’s left-wing pundits, and the rest of those who have criticized the Romney campaign are missing the point, which is that it is no more  appropriate to apologise for the First Amendment before a raging mob attacks an American embassy than it is to apologise for the First Amendment after such an attack occurs. The embassy’s pre-emptive apology – and that’s exactly what it was – shows just how useless it is to apologise for the most basic principle of the Enlightenment. Someone who would ransack an embassy and kill American diplomats over a movie he saw on the internet is not likely to be persuaded by a mere statement assuaging his “hurt religious feelings.”

The Obama administration did indeed repudiate the Embassy’s statement – which has since been removed from its website – and some sources have anonymously claimed that the release was the work of a freelancing, public diplomacy officer who acted without express approval from Washington. This, the administration’s supporters claim, absolves the president of blame for a statement they nonetheless defend on its merits. Regardless, the buck stops with the President of the United States; if a US Embassy releases a statement, one must assume it is something the President stands behind. Revoking the statement while failing to discipline or fire the individual behind it sends mixed signals. Moreover, in remarks at the White House condemning the murder of Ambassador Stevens, the President appeared to reiterate the Cairo Embassy’s statement, announcing that “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” in effect passing a value judgment on a certain instance of expression while failing to explicitly defend the principle of free expression itself.

Like the fury over the Muhammad cartoons in 2005 — which were published months before opportunistic imams whipped up an international (and deadly) controversy — clips from The Innocence of Muslims were put on YouTube in July this year. It was not until 9 September, however, that the Grand Mufti of Egypt declared that, “The attack on religious sanctities does not fall under this freedom,” the freedom in question being freedom of speech. Pointedly, the asinine US Embassy statement, while directly condemning shadowy American filmmakers, made no mention of the Egyptian Grand Mufti or other religious fanatics who had condemned the film and whipped people into such hysteria.

We are now treated to the strange spectacle of Western progressives aligning with Islamic religious reactionaries, both arguing that freedom of speech can go too far (of course, it is only speech that offends Muslims which comes under progressive suspicion; the same liberals who insist that the tender sensitivities of Muslims be respected have no problem with speech that maligns religious Christians and Jews). Those arguing that the YouTube clips that allegedly “incited” this mess should be banned – like the Guardian’s Andrew Brown – would do well to pause and consider the implications of what they are arguing. Does Brown think that Mitt Romney, a practicing Mormon, would be justified in demanding that the New York City authorities shut down The Book of Mormon? I am frequently outraged by what I read on the website of Brown’s newspaper (as one wag put it to me; “With Comment is Free, you get what you pay for”); would I be justified in expressing that anger through violence towards various and sundry Guardian writers?

Meanwhile, one can turn on the television or open a newspaper in any Muslim country and be sure to find grossly anti-Semitic material that is just as, if not more, offensive than anything contained in The Innocence of Muslims’ puerile script. Do American and British Jews then trek to the Libyan or Egyptian embassies in Washington and London, scale the fence, plant an Israeli flag on the roof, slaughter the ambassadors therein, and drag their remains through the street?

At least since the Rushdie affair, rioting and murdering over “insults” to religion has been a phenomenon almost exclusive to Muslims. It is strange, then, that those who insist the West must show more respect for Islamic civilization are precisely the same people who treat its adherents like children.

James Kirchick, a fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, is a contributing editor of The New Republic. He tweets at @jkirchick  Courtesy Index On Censorship

More posts;

That Anti-Muhammad Film: It’s Totally Protected By The 1st Amendment

Video :Muhammad Movie Trailer

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    US can have its own laws and policies regarding freedom of expression but once such are published on the WWW these are in global public domain. Globally there are different systems of law, cultures, sentiments and feelings. So one has to be careful not to misuse the web to malign and hurt the feelings of others.

    The reactions by muslims worldwide is understandable just as Buddhist would be aggrieved by attacks or humiliation of Lord Buddha. Just because some Christians have no regard for their own saviour Jesus Christ does not mean that the followers of other faiths feel the same about their own leaders of faith.

    US is a society which allows many freedoms which are not acceptable to other societies such as same sex marraige, extra matital sex, child sex, pornography, homosexuality, gun culture, hate speech etc So it cannot force these things on others under the pretext of freedom of speech, liberty to do anything you want etc.

    US has embarked on many wars against people of other countries. Begining with Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Iraq, Afghanistan and now sanctions against Iran. Playing the role of global self appointed policeman is a risky proposition considering the thousands of people killed by US abroad. So dont blame others for the results of your own misadventures.

    • 0
      0

      Buddhism teaches tolerating of other religions. that is why buddhism flourished in India at one time and disappeared.

      On the other hand, two middle eastern religions are political religions and they both struggle for world domination.

      Islam had soften when it’s believers mixed with eastern religions and created other islam sects while muslims in the presence of their related faiths had become more violent.

  • 0
    0

    Karthelis

    You write,”Just because some Christians have no regard for their own saviour Jesus Christ does not mean that the followers of other faiths feel the same about their own leaders of faith.”

    The fact that professed Christians do not, at least as a rule, react violently, protest or make a noise when Jesus Christ is insulted in some way in books, films or other media does not necessarily mean that they have no regard for him. There are reasons for this. I mention some below and others may added to it.

    1. First, the nature of the religion taught by Jesus, who practised what he preached by enduring insults, beatings and finally death. Anyone who reacts angrily or violently or asks the civil authorities to intervene to stop what is perceived as an insult to Jesus or punish the offenders cannot be his true followers. Governments operate on the principle of violence, that is, when its laws are not obeyed it uses violence (in the form of the police and, if necessary, the armed forces) to enforce its laws and punish the violators. And the use of violence is not compatible with Jesus’ teachings.

    Since the teachings of Buddha in this area are similar to those of Jesus, one would expect his true followers to have the same attitude.

    2. The best way to counter perceived religious insults is to ignore it and there are many who are wise enough to understand it. How many would have heard about “Innocence of Muslims” if not for the violent protests which followed the uploading of the trailer of this film on the YouTube? Again, how many would know anything about “Satanic Verses” if not for the fatwa of the Ayatollah?

    3. It may also be that professed Christians feel more secure about their faith than professed followers of other religions.

    It should be mentioned that, in earlier centuries, there were blasphemy laws in western countries that are now religiously liberal and violators were punished. Thousands were killed in religious persecutions. This, of course, was contrary to the precepts of the founder of Christianity.

  • 0
    0

    Isnt it a contradiction that the so called civilized countries of the west, secular and tolerant, yet with the blood of thousands on their hands, from Nagasaki to Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan? Isnt it hypocritical to mourn the death of a few whereas they kill tens and hundreds daily through drone strikes and other interventions. Who are the biggest suppliers of arms and killing machines in the world? So is this the demoocracy and secularism they preach.

    Why are these people there in the middle east but to exploit their resources. By propping up dictatorial regimes and kingdoms and exploiting those countries, yet depriving the people of those countries and labling them as terrorist and backward. Now the people have revolted and have taken control of their destinies. So why blame them.

  • 0
    0

    Jimsofty, please don’t judge a religion by the practices of its misguided adherents. Violence as displayed by al Qaeda has no place in Islaam. As for “tolerance” the Qur’an unequivocally declares “there is no compulsion in religion” S2V256. Hence Islaam is against forced proselytism. Rather Muslims are encouraged to convey the message and impress by their good practices. A parallel in Buddhism will be to read understand and practise the Dhamma as per the pure teachings of the Lord Buddha. As for the middle eastern religion that is politically motivated for World domination it can only be Zionism and Christian Zionism.

  • 0
    0

    This is a video that must be seen

    http://www.avaaz.org/en/stop_the_clash_2012/?tjnmKab

  • 0
    0

    “And He it is Who has created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon, each in an orbit floating.” (21:33)
    “Until when he reached the place where the sun set, he found it going down into a black sea, and found by it a people.” 13:87 (Quran says earth is fixed and flat and the Sun has a ‘setting place’. rising place is mentioned in 13:90)

    Koranic teaching still insists that Sun moves around the earth.

    How can we advance, when they teach like this?? ;) :) ;)

  • 0
    0

    My my my! Enter Hema the ignoramus! What a wonderful discovery !!! After more than fourteen centuries of its existence, Hema discovers that the Quran says the Earth is flat! How come all those Orientalists and critics like George Sale, Montgomery Watt missed this one. Hema what is wrong with 21:33? As for 13:87 and 13:90 Surah 13 has only 43 verses. This indicates that Hema has no idea of what 13:87 or 13:90 refers to. Probably copied his stuff from the dharmadveepaye blogspot! If the Quran says the Earth is flat how come the Japanese Astronomer Dr. Yoshikade Kozai, Professor Emeritus at Tokyo University. Hongo, Tokyo and Director National Observatory, Mikita said, “I am very much impressed by finding true astronomical facts in the Qur’an..”

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.