Ben Delicious writes from Cairo: As the often violent protests against the film called Innocence of Muslims spread across the world, apart from France where a ban was hastily introduced on all gatherings to do with the film, the question that arises is this: how many of the people who are voicing their disgust about the video have actually seen it?
Now you may think that it doesn’t matter and it’s the principle that counts. But how can so many people get so wound up with such gusto if they have no idea what it is that they are actually protesting about? And what if the film is total s..t, which it is actually, and is not worth the matches with which all those American flags are torched?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for people standing up for their religious beliefs. In fact, I would even say that Muslims often give an example to the followers of Judaism and Christianity when it comes to protecting their faith. Would Jews revolt across the world if a film rubbishing Abraham or Moses comes out? Nope, they would not. And would Christians stand up as one if someone ridiculed Jesus, on screen or in a book? Not a chance, especially as it happens all the time these days.
But making a huge fuss over an irrelevant film that was posted on YouTube where a lot of rubbish appears most of the time without actually seeing it does look a bit, how can I put it, far-fetched. Especially as the violent protests have already claimed the lives of hundreds of people and will obviously claim more.
So let’s think how this works then: somebody tells somebody else that he’s heard that there’s a film out there somewhere that is offensive to Islam. And the word spreads and all the people take it on someone else’s word that they should be offended and they get all worked up about it. They are obviously not even intending to watch the film, as it would be against their religious beliefs and constitute blasphemy, considering what’s in it. But they spread the word and others get all wound up as well. And before you know it, half of the Muslim world is up in arms, burning embassies and buildings generally. Yet the uncomfortable fact remains: the vast majority of protesters have no idea what it is that they are protesting about.
But the weirdest thing of all is the delicate situation that President Barack Obama and his people find themselves in. There they were, balancing on a diplomatic tightrope, trying to appease the Muslim world while whacking brothers in Afghanistan and other places, and just when they thought they were getting away with it, bam! Comes this film controversy.
The US government is now paying for ads in Pakistan, distancing itself from the film that no one saw, while claiming that the protests against it, the film that is, are used by extremists to damage American interests. Even though everyone knows that if anyone is damaging American interests in the Muslim world that would be the American government itself. Those drones alone flying all over the world, hitting supposed al Qaeda targets while whacking innocent civilians as well, sure don’t make the US more loveable among the Muslim brothers.
Still, it is a strange situation by any standards. No one in the Muslim world has seen the film but everyone is condemning it.