Triggering a crisis

Published: September 17, 2012

Angry protesters push at a barrier, burn an effigy in front of the American consulate on Sunday. PHOTO: SHAFIQ MALIK/EXPRESS

The controversial film, Innocence of Muslims, put on YouTube by individuals in the US, backed by anti-Islamic pastor Terry Jones, who is based in Florida, has created a crisis across the Muslim world. There have been huge protests across North Africa and the Middle East, perhaps, most notably in Egypt, where angry crowds are bolstered by supporters of the ruling Islamic Brotherhood. In scenes witnessed on previous occasions as well, the mobs stripped off US flags from buildings and burnt them, along with effigies of Pastor Jones, whose desire to spark hate-filled behaviour amongst Muslims, has once again been successful.

Surely, some provision must exist within US laws to reprimand derogatory attacks on particular religious or ethnic groups, intended to incite anger. It is difficult to imagine that such false and offensive diatribes against African-Americans, Jews or other communities would be tolerated to any degree had it occurred in the US itself. Sectary of State Hillary Clinton’s condemnation of the film is appreciated, but perhaps, more concrete action needs to be taken on the part of the US to pacify the vexed crowds and reassure them that the US is against such blatant misuse of freedom of expression.

The chaos has spread to Karachi as well, where after the Friday prayers, the Jamaatud Daawa staged an angry protest and demanded that Jones be handed over for justice to be delivered. In Islamabad, too, other groups staged a series of rallies at various places, including outside the Lal Masjid — a symbolic place for many hard line forces. Some of the marches were backed by the Jamaat-e-Islami as well.

It is hardly surprising that we see such outrage. Even worse is the fact that it appears to have been very deliberately provoked by placing the highly offensive film on a public website and then going out of the way to promote it. What Washington does not appear to realise is that such actions will not curtail the growing hatred for it, thereby making global issues harder to resolve. At a time when we need cooperation and peace, such actions only create more anarchy and distrust amongst nations.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • realist
    Sep 17, 2012 - 6:02AM

    “Surely, some provision must exist within US laws to reprimand derogatory attacks on particular religious or ethnic groups, intended to incite anger.”

    Oh sure, it may exist. But do provisions exist in Pak laws to reprimand attacks on Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians, and even Shias and Ahmedis? If not, first enact those and then lecture others.

    Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That is the law of nature and also Karma. Though I condone loss of innocent lives, Muslims just deserve what they are getting. Just stop whining.


  • Zalim Singh
    Sep 17, 2012 - 6:12AM

    You trigger your own crisis-es.


  • C. Nandkishore
    Sep 17, 2012 - 6:15AM

    Freedom of speech has been gained by the people of the west after centuries of fight. I doubt for a few setup violent demonstrations they will forgo this right.


  • vasan
    Sep 17, 2012 - 9:43AM

    The author should realize that enough hate material exists in US and everywhere about religion in general and about all religions incl Islam. Instead of ignoring such stupid materials ( which is the best way to snub such producers) why muslims alone get mad over such materials on the net and indulge in hate mongering, property destruction and killings in some incidents. Why should muslim mullahs drive people mad with their passion arousing actions ? Arent they the losers in the end. A format protest by OIC to US to charge and punish, if laws permit, the producer will produce much better results than such flag burning and things alike. But then OhISee ??


  • Indian Wisdom
    Sep 17, 2012 - 11:02AM

    “Surely, some provision must exist within US laws to reprimand derogatory attacks on particular religious or ethnic groups”

    Yes , sure why not. They should have a blasphemy law, and to learn how to frame it american senators must visit Pakistan to study the Blasphemy law of the country and that can be replicated in America also!!!!


  • sabi
    Sep 17, 2012 - 1:43PM

    My comments on ET editorial on western democracies created a stirr and some of the hounerable guests got upset by my comment.
    This was not an attack on freedom of speech but, a piece of advise or warning to lawmakers,keeping in mind the history of intollarance in Pakistan.Had our previous generation recognised the enemy,religion exploiters,in time we could have saved the mess that we are caught up today.We kept our eyes closed at the name of tollerance and let them plagued the society slowly but suerly.Now reward for tollerance is paid back by intollerance.And i see no guarantee that these evil forces,if left unchecked in free world,will do no harm in the long run to their respective socities.Lesson should be learnt from Pakistan.Though tollerance is a good thing indeed but more important is it’s right use.I love the peace that people in west enjoy today and love to see it in future too.


  • sfwfbfw
    Sep 17, 2012 - 2:51PM

    This editorial is plain wrong on multiple counts. No, there is no law at all in America that can be used to silence anybody. They understand that one has to tolerate a few obnoxious people but the benefits of Freedom of Speech outweigh the cost of this unpleasantness.

    And then there’s this:
    “It is difficult to imagine that such false and offensive diatribes against African-Americans, Jews or other communities would be tolerated to any degree had it occurred in the US itself”.

    No, it is not that difficult to imagine at all. Do a little research before writing such a sweeping statement. I have seen so many American and British stand-up comedians make fun of their religion (Christians and Jews) and there are so many atheist comedians who routinely bash all religions. I could post some links but since they often relate to Christianity and Jesus Christ, it’s best not to. But they exist as I’m sure race related materials exist and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. Let’s accept that as other religions have and just grow up.


  • Jpy
    Sep 17, 2012 - 5:11PM

    When there are hate materials available against all the religions why only muslims make such hue & cry. In a well advanced age of information technology nobody can stop such hate movies & cartoons. Best option available is to ignore such things. But then mullas will be forced to close their shops that is the only problem.Recommend

  • Cautious
    Sep 17, 2012 - 6:10PM

    The crisis is triggered not by the American govt but by Political Leaders who don’t have the guts to acknowledge that the Constitution of the most successful Democracy in the World allows both freedom of speech and freedom of religion.Recommend

  • Singh
    Sep 17, 2012 - 8:20PM

    Where were you or all Mullah of Muslim world when Taliban blow up Buddha statue in Afghanistan?
    It is shame on all of you. There is no one way street in love or hate. No one can demand respect other than earn it. It is OK or rather joyful when poor convert on live tv. Recommend

  • James Bond
    Sep 17, 2012 - 8:40PM

    Purpose of the producer was to create riots in Muslim World, and it appears that we are doing exactly what they want. The best strategy would be to just ignore that kind of stuff and move on.


  • Falcon
    Sep 17, 2012 - 8:42PM

    I certainly agree with you. People are losing sight of the forest for the trees. Freedom of expression that derives pleasure from hurting the feelings of others is an unhealthy state of things to begin with. There is already a growing trust deficit between different nations. This incident will make things worse.


  • John B
    Sep 17, 2012 - 9:00PM

    There are far more important things happening around the world and in your back yard that deserve pleading.

    If hooligans in PAK went on rampage, why should it concern others. PAK cultivated this hooligan mentality over the years to burn the tires and flags and today it is against US, tomorrow it may against Ahmedis and Shia and Christians or is it already happening.?Recommend

  • karma
    Sep 17, 2012 - 9:16PM

    10 comments. ET must have been fairly aggressive in curtailing free speech.

    Its editorials on this issue indicates it supports curtailing free speech, thus it is no surprise. Motto of these protests seem to be – I’ll give you the right of speech as long as you only say what I like to hear – the moment you say something I don’t like, I’ll purge it and perhaps purge a few unconnected people too!


  • Avtar
    Sep 18, 2012 - 3:51AM

    School textbooks in most Muslim countries, especially Pakistan, are full of hate and anti-West and anti-Kafir (including Ahmedis and some other Muslim sects). These texts are approved by various governments, The innocence of Muslims was not even approved or funded by the US government. In most Islamic republics everything is approved or tacitly approved by the government. Everyone can express their anti-religious feelings in any Western country, if they wish and no charges.
    Time and again Muslims in most Islamic republics take the bait and exhibit behavior contrary to what is preached in Koran, that is, it is a religion of peace.
    There is no mass exodus of 5million muslims from North America nor has there been any decline in applications for migration to the West.


  • elementary
    Sep 18, 2012 - 4:54PM

    @realist: You wrote: ” I condone loss of innocent lives.”
    Really ?? or did you mean condenm?


  • gp65
    Sep 18, 2012 - 10:34PM

    @elementary: “@realist: You wrote: ” I condone loss of innocent lives.”
    Really ?? or did you mean condenm?”
    HE could also have meant condole.


  • arsalan ali
    Sep 19, 2012 - 12:55AM

    Looking so sad and sparking to the muslims of the world, this is not first time in history but before such kind of malpractices have been done like disecretion of The Holy Quran by the USA Army in the Afghanistan’s city of the Kabul and later on openly announcement by the priest Terry Jones to burn the copy Of the Holy Quran in the Newyork city of the USA and now this time producing film named “innocnce of muslims” which is the anti Islamic video and it is produced by the USA.
    where is justice, why muslims are called terrorists; are we not call these people Terrorists? who does evil practices against muslims of the world.But here the UNO is calm and looks like a deaf,dumb and blind where muslims of whole over the world are waiting for justice.finally it is dire need of the muslims to stop such kinds of practices other wise it will not be strategic cold war in the world as doing secretly but it will be Religious war.


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