09.23.12

Protest the protesters

Posted in Society at 15:57 by RjZ

I don’t blame Islamic protesters, marching around U.S. embassies and shouting death to America. It is too easy, from the point of view of a western person with access to mostly free media, multiple language websites, and some actual experience with the average American, to wonder how they could think Americans are out to get them. How could these angry young men could think that my friends didn’t see this horrible film insulting the prophet without cheering it on? Of course we were more likely out hiking or having a beer and had no idea such a low budget film was being made, let alone make time to watch it.

But if you live in the slums of Cairo and all of your news and information is highly skewed by the people around you, by the fact that your country has had a controlled media for decades, that your new, weak, government is desperately trying to figure out how to even stay in power in a democracy, and you’re surrounded by people who aren’t exactly seeing the benefits of western hegemony, well, maybe you might come away with some pretty extreme views. Compare with the bible-belt frequent-church-going, southerner and imagine how hard it is for him not to think that homosexuals are destroying families—he hears it every Sunday and, as far as he knows, he’s never met real homosexual person. After all, his gay neighbors are closeted in fear or got the hell away from their bigoted home town in their pilgrimage to the big city.

I don’t blame the protesters and I don’t believe they represent the average person in the muslim world, but that doesn’t mean I’m not angry! Where is the intelligentsia? Where are the wise religious leaders, civic leaders, newspaper editors, and young university students who do have access to a more balanced news, who aren’t afraid of losing a vote, and who might have even met a real-live westerner and noticed that we’re not all that bad? Shouldn’t they be marching in the streets shouting down these young hooligans who are dragging Islam’s reputation through the dirt?

Instead of suggesting, as the prime minister of Turkey has that “Insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad cannot be considered freedom of speech.” Leaders must remind angry protesters that “…insulting religion cannot be an excuse to attack people” as the prime minister eventually got round to saying.

It seems that must be the message. Regardless of how abhorrent you believe this movie to be, the response we’ve seen raging around the entire muslim world might very well not be representative of the average muslim, but I don’t see how I could know otherwise since the call to peace, the protest against this un-Islamic extremism, has been silent.

Meanwhile, here in the U.S., muslims and copts are condemn both the film Innocence of Muslims’ insulting of the Prophet, and from my perspective more importantly, the misguided violent response. When religious extremists like the Westboro Baptist Church disgustingly picket military funerals in the U.S., everyone from fratboys to the Foo Fighters protest back—notably, without any violence.

I don’t blame ignorant hooligans, but, if this isn’t the real face of Islam (and I can’t believe it is) then where are the faith’s true warriors? Why is no one protesting the protestors?

1 Comment »

  1. Traveling Hypothesis » Can the backlash spread? said,

    September 26, 2012 at 16:18

    [...] for finding some sensible folks in the middle east and letting us in the west know about it. We were beginning to worry. As Mr Friedman says, let’s hope they can sustain it. [...]

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