When all Hell broke loose in Benghazi, Libya, last week, the first casulty was U.S. Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, who lost his life when protesters stormed the United States embassy. The violence has spread nearly two dozen countries. At least four people are dead, many more injured, as American embassies in Lybia, Egypt, with protesters chanting "Death to America". The reason for this spate of violence? A movie trailer on YouTube called, "Innocense of Muslims".
The first thing you notice about this film is that it's really, really bad, with production values that the average 8th grader could easily match. Anti-islam and anti-Mohammad message aside, the 14 miinute film looks like it's meant to be sort of like an Islamic "Life of Brian" spoof. Unfortunately, some members of the "Religion of Peace" apparently don't have a sense of humour.It's frankly incredible that a short film clip featuring Muhammad is cited as the spark that launched the latest wave of Islamic violence. Think of it as the Mohammad Cartoon, version 2.0.
The link below contains the clip which you can watch on YouTube. As I write this, the video (as seen on YouTube below) has 3.8 million views with 3/4 of the votes being 'dislikes. Have I mentioned the production values are dreadful? Let's not mince words; this film, if you can call it that, is a piece of crap.
Incidentally, the U.S. government has asked Google, who owns YouTube, to take down the video. Google has refused.
Early news suggested that the video was actually funded by terrorists who were looking to incite violence. Others claimed it was Jewish film-makers in Hollywood. Other still suggested that Terry Jones of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church was, at least partially, behind the film. Now, however, we know that the brains behind the film is one Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, whose rap sheet includes bank fraud and who, we are told, may have violated parole to create the film. Many are discussing the man and his motives, trying to assign blame, and looking for ways to take down the video that so offends fundamentalist Islam.
None of that matters here. I pretty much don't care who made the film. Every religious person works on the premise that theirs is the one true faith, which is, of course, impossible. All religions, and everyone on the planet for that matter, should be open to criticism and yes, ridicule. The money trail to who is behind the film doesn't change the fact that it's very existence is enough to get Islamists in a twist and having them go on a killing spree. That's what we should be livid about. Not that some mediocre production of the life of Muhammad was released to YouTube. Whether it was insulting to Islam doesn't change the fact that innocent people are being murdered.
If some nutcase violated parole to make a bad film about Islam, it doesn't matter. If those idiots from the Westboro Baptist Church were behind it, it doesn't matter. I would still think that a) they were idiots, and that b) some people, trapped as they are in theie 14th century ideology, are murdering people. No one has a right to go killing people because their sensibilities were hurt. No one. And we, as a society, also have no right to make excuses for this violence. It's wrong, plain and simple.
As an interesting aside, the folks over at The Onion, a satirical news site, were bang on when they published the following cartoon, and an accompanying articled titled, "No One Murdered Because Of This Image."
The story is worth reading (go read it) because the message is an important one. By many standards, the above image is offensive and insulting to at least four major faiths. I fought back a smile, and maybe a tiny bit of embarassment, as I looked at Moses, Jesus, Ganesha, and Buddha, all engaged in a weird cartoon orgy. In one image, the Onion cartoonist managed to offend Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, and Budhism.
Yet no one took to the streets, burning down shops, or killing people.
I make a lot of fun of religion with Christianity taking the brunt of my pokes. That's not because I have anything more against Christianity than any other religion, but more that it's the religion I am most deeply familiar with. However, Christianity, despite an equally bloody history to that of Islam, has evolved; at least for most people. Even fundamentalist Christians, some of who I count as my friends, understand that you don't go killing people every time you are offended.
This is Islam's shame. This is why Islamaphobia isn't some Western personality defect, but a real, completely understandable fear. Of course we are Islamaphobic. When we, here in the Western world, watch thousands take to the streets, shouting for our extermination, for our deaths, all because somebody put out an insulting cartoon or video, it only makes sense to be afraid.
If Islam is to be seen as anything remotely close to its self-attached monicker, the "Religion of Peace", it needs to make some serious accomodations with the modern world. Like Christianity before, Islam needs to evolve.
This post, and others of a religious (or non-religious) nature can be found at RejectingGod.org.