Riots over independent film continue to rock the Arab world

By Thomas Hair
Opinions Editor

In recent years, the Arab Spring shook the foundation of many Middle Eastern countries. Now, another wave of violence and rage has swept the already-precarious Arabic World as a result of an obscure American short film published online. This film, entitled “The Innocence of Muslims” portrays Islamic prophet Mohammed as a child molestor and crook.

The Muslim community in the Middle East did not take to this lightly, lashing out against the country in which the movie was published – the USA. Egyptian protestors scaled walls to tear down the flag from the United States Consulate in Cairo on Tuesday, September 11. Later, protestors attacked the American Embassy in Libya with anti-aircraft weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, murdering the American ambassador in Libya and three others. For the past week, violent acts of protest took place in neighboring nations Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Pakistan and Bangladesh as well.

Large masses of people have been filmed chanting for the downfall of the USA, while being egged on by speakers encouraging them to defend their prophet with chants such as “Death to America” and “Obama is a Dog”. The Obama Administration, of course, has condemned these attacks. On Tuesday, September 18, American consulates in Thailand and Indonesia were closed down to prevent potential attacks from causing significant damage.

This issue presents a number of delicate issues. First of which is the balance of free speech and best interest of the nation. The government could potentially rectify the situation by taking down the offending video and punishing its creator, however, doing so would infringe upon America’s dedication to freedom of speech and could set a dangerous precedent for future scenarios. How far is too far? Should there be a limit on forms of expression that are pure hate and bigotry, as to avoid conflicts such as this?

Another intriguing issue is that radical Muslims used the film as a scapegoat, an excuse, to carry out pre-planned attacks on the US embassies. These just so happened to be on the week of the 11th anniversary of September 11, 2001. Editor of Aslan Media, Nathan Lean, stated in an interview that it is likely that “the terrorists who carried out the attack on the consulate planned it to coincide with that anniversary.” This would explain why it took so long for the Muslim community to suddenly become so enraged about a film that had already been published for awhile.

This week has been a difficult one for the United States. It has been yet another reminder of how easily Islam and the Western World clash and an entire region can be thrown back to the brink of chaos.