News / Middle East

Different Voices on Islamic Protests

A Muslim youth holds up a placard during a protest against against the anti-Islam film, in Jammu, India Sept. 21, 2012.
A Muslim youth holds up a placard during a protest against against the anti-Islam film, in Jammu, India Sept. 21, 2012.
The nature of worldwide protests against an anti-Muslim video made at a California film studio has ranged from orderly to deadly. Similarly, the reaction of political leaders, clerics and intellectuals has varied greatly.
 
While virtually no one defends the video itself, there is a great disparity of opinion about the violence it has provoked and the underlying causes of the violence.

Here, VOA gathers a sampling of those comments:
 
Mufti Mustafa Efendi Ceric, the top Muslim leader in Bosnia, addressed the subject Thursday in an interview with VOA's Bosnian service.
 
“Some people have their own agendas and reasons for provoking with the movies like this one, or the cartoons and that is not the first time. However, it must not be a reason for the violence and fiery reaction we have seen so far.”
 
The mufti said the violence has been provoked by individuals with a political agenda.
 
“I think that, both in the West and in certain Islamic countries, there are people who would like to prevent Muslims getting into [a] good and close relationship and mutual cooperation with the Western countries. There is no prescription on how to stop this now, but I am encouraged with the latest voices of the Ulema [Muslim religious leaders] who call upon peace.”
 
He also urged Muslims not to blame the United States for the video.
 
“I am very sorry that some politicians in the Muslim world accused the U.S. government to have something to do with the movie. That is wrong, and I would like to send a message to those who listen, and especially to the Muslims of the Balkans, that it is utterly irresponsible to accuse [the] U.S . Government for something which in the Western world is clearly [an] freedom of expression.”
 
U.S. Under Secretary of State Tara Sonenshine made a similar point in an interview with the Alhurra television network.
 
“Let me be very clear. The United States government had nothing to do with that hateful and disgusting piece of video. Nothing. Full stop. And that is worth repeating because I think not everyone in the world understands that. We had nothing to do with that piece of video.”
 
Sonenshine said U.S. laws and principles sometimes lead the government to defend the right of individuals to say things it finds abhorrent.
 
“But again, what is unacceptable is when a piece of video leads to violence. Violence in response to that piece of video is unacceptable. It is not how people want to live. So we find ourselves defending those universal freedoms, and yet also speaking out against the ugliness of the video and the violence of the response. Confusing to some, contradictory, yes.”
 
There is no confusion about how to respond to the video in the mind of Qari Yaqoob Sheikh, a leader of the Islamist Jamaat-ut-Dawa organization.

Members of that group marched in protest Friday in Lahore, Pakistan. Qari Yaqoob Sheikh's remarks were recorded by VOA correspondent Sharon Behn.
 
"This is an insult, and we condemn the movie, and the American government should arrest and hang Sam Bacile and all the actors in the movie, or our protests will continue."
 
Behn also recorded the tough line taken by Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.
 
"We are demanding that the United Nations and other international organizations seek a law that bans such hate speech aimed at fomenting hatred and sowing the seeds of discord through such falsehoods, which is a grave violation of all basic norms of humanity."
 
A more moderate note was sounded by Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of Tunisia's ruling Islamist Ennahda party.

He was recorded Thursday by VOA correspondent Elizabeth Bryant.
 
“While Muslims have the right to protest, they do not have the right to get violent with their adversaries, especially that U.S. Embassies and personnel have nothing to do with this issue. That is why we deplore the attacks, whether in Libya or Tunisia, against the embassies and personnel. Thank God that in Tunisia the damage was only physical and there was no loss of lives. Tunisian security forces dealt with the aggressors with needed firmness and killed some of them and injured others. “
 
Indonesia's ambassador to the United States, Dino Patti Djalal, said he has told U.S. officials that the video is damaging to harmonious interfaith relations.

He spoke to VOA's Indonesian service after a meeting at the White House this week.
 
"Our message to them was that this video plagues any effort toward a peaceful inter-religious society, not just in Indonesia, but on an international level. We also said that we, the people of Indonesia, both Muslims and non-Muslims, condemn harshly this video."
 
The ambassador added that the American officials are themselves critical of the video.
 
"The U.S. officials we met understand our position and they agree that the video is contrary to the goals of both Indonesia and the U.S., which is to create a peaceful and tolerant society among religious groups. They, the U.S. officials we met, also expressed that they have condemned the video and have asked YouTube to review the content of the video and whether it deserves to stay on YouTube."
 
Olivier Roy, a French scholar who has written extensively on Islam and politics of the Middle East and Central Asia, notes the anti-video protests are much smaller than the Arab Spring rallies seen in many countries over the past two years.

He spoke this week in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
 
"The protests have been carried out by a small minority. [For example,] you have 2,000 Salafists in Tunisia and you have 190 in Paris. So, it's politically motivated. It's simply politics. If the Muslim world were against the West, you would have millions of people on the streets, but now you only have thousands of people on the streets. So, it's a way to present an elliptical illusion."
 
Tariq Ali, a veteran Pakistani-born British military historian, author and journalist, told RFE/RL that the protests have more to do with broad geopolitical trends than with the video itself.
 
"The reasons these films are being made is precisely because of the occupation of the Muslim world by the United States and its allies, which have created an atmosphere of extreme Islamophobia. You have, sometimes, liberals but usually the right and extreme right, which feel it's a good thing to carry on provoking [extremists in the Middle East]. That's why they do it. It has nothing to do with free speech."
 
Charles Kurzman, an author and leading authority on Muslim movements, also was interviewed by RFE/RL. He argued that the protesters do not represent Muslims as a whole.
 
“Let's keep in mind that protesting an insult is perfectly legal in most countries including the United States, and if people want to hold signs or even burn flags, they're allowed to do that. That is called free speech, and so I do not mind when groups organize to protest a movie. I think that is a sign of political participation. Now, when those protests turn violent, of course, then a crime has been committed and I oppose that. But to give these filmmakers the level of importance that these protests have done is almost a gift - a gift by extremists from one side to the extremists on the other side - and it's a gift that keeps circulating among the extremes."

Here are some views from our audience:

Via Matthew on Facebook:

I'll be the first to admit many people see both ways of life, Islamic and Western, as backwards, but there are also many people who are intelligent enough to realize these stereotypes are insufficient to define, address, or solve our problems. The obvious prejudices from both groups in the past week are very troubling.

Via Tian:

One must strike a balance between freedom of expression and the duty/responsibility/sensitivity which come along with this freedom. In ancient Chinese wisdom of words, acts of humility and respect for other religions speak louder than words - Live and Let Live. This stupid man who denigrates the holy symbol of others' religion brings shame to the good name of ordinary American folk.



Via Twitter:

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: James from: Nebraska
September 22, 2012 11:58 AM
The issue is not Islam. The issue is religion: without it you would have good people doing good and evil people doing bad, but to get good people to do evil you need religion. Plenty of evil is done in the name of religion here too.


by: Rob from: Nebraska
September 21, 2012 4:11 PM
Seriously, You all believe that the act of violence is caused by a movie. That is like saying that I am going to harm my neighbor because I do not approve of his opinions. Hillary Clinton stated that America has been Religious tolerant since this country was founded and if she knew her history she would know that this is not the case. These outrages just proves that the Islamic nation will fight over just about anything.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid