LOS ANGELES — Many Muslims in the United States have been closely following news reports of protests in the Middle East and the anti-Muslim film that sparked the unrest.
From Los Angeles to New York, Muslim-Americans have been reflecting on what has happened in the Middle East and what caused the violence and protests.
Mustafa from New York says he does not approve of the protesters' actions.
"I don’t like the reaction people who went to the consulate and burn it up, or fire there - but to go and just talk, in peace, and to talk or say you are angry is normal," he said.
Many Muslims including Suraiya in the United States don't approve of the film that sparked the the demonstrations.
"They shouldn’t go to that extent to make videos and attack someone like that," said Suraiya. "I mean, of course everyone is entitled to their own opinion but that is a hate video and hate videos - they should be punished for what they did."
While the film was offensive to them, many Muslims including Edina Lekovic from Los Angeles say the U.S. government should not have censorship laws.
“But I don’t think we should change who we are as a country because the freedom of speech also allows us to be as open as we want to be in this country and practice our Islam to the degree that we want to,” said Lekovic.
College student Wasi Momin says the film alone did not prompt these demonstrations. He says there are deeper reasons behind the anger.
“You have young folk just riled up many of them jobless coming off a kind of high off the revolution and protesting," said Momin. "I think they need something to direct their energy and effort towards and if they find something like this they acted on it they were impulsive.”
Muslim-Americans say over the years anti-American feelings in the Middle East are also caused by frustration with U.S. foreign policy towards Israel. Spokesman for the Islamic Center of Southern California, Dr. Maher Hathout says the violent acts of protesters do not represent the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad.
“Say whatever you say but to storm the streets, shouting and crying a burning flags and storming embassies and you consider yourself defending your religion this is simply idiotic,” he said during Friday Prayers.
He says one reason Muslims in the United States do not share many of the views of Muslims in the Middle East is because the U.S. allows different beliefs to be expressed openly.
“We are kind of used to live with different ideas, with different opinions, with different expressions. So it’s a matter being used to a situation," he said. "Of course if you in a closed situation, you are used to hear your own voice and then a different voice sounds like a strange voice.”
He says neither the anti-Islam film nor the violent protests are justified and do not represent the views of the vast majority of Muslims or non-Muslims in the United States.