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Film protests

I understand why people get upset if someone makes a video insulting their religion. What puzzles me is how attacking US embassies is supposed to help. Given the secrecy surrounding the production of the video, it seems unlikely that the US government could have stopped it, even if they didn't have a constitutional protection for free speech. Surely if anything, this behaviour gives succour to those who seek to portray Islam in a negative light?


Sep. 14th, 2012 10:13 pm (UTC)
…this behaviour gives succour to
those who seek to portray Islam in a negative

Quite. Seen from the outside, from the view of the propagandists who make the offensive videos, cartoons and tracts, it's the gift that keeps on giving: they get so say something offensive about Islam - an action they rather enjoy - and the response is prime-time broadcast propaganda to persuade their more civil fellow-citizens that Moslems are individually raving loonies and collectively a bloodthirsty mob of savages.

I have no idea what it looks like from an inside view. I would say that populations under stress - economic stress, hunger, or fear of violent and oppressive authorities - tend to form dangerous and destructive mobs; and the 'trigger' event to the disturbances may be entirely unrelated to the source of stress. Or, indeed, artificial - mobs, lynchings, riots and pogroms have often been deliberately triggered by the authorities against conveniently-distracting targets.
Sep. 17th, 2012 12:00 am (UTC)
I don't think that the salafists in Libya are under a new wave of oppression from the authorities, nor hunger, nor economic stress.

At the risk of sounding as foolish as those Americans who blame the governments for failing to control the riots, which seems to me to be somewhat different to failing to impose content based restrictions on speech, those in government in Egypt and Libya are more friendly towards the rioters' demographic groups than they have ever been. There are tremendous economic problems, but in circumstances where considerable proportions of GDP are distributed in the form of government/ NGO emergency relief/ aid/ welfare, violent and politically favored groups are rarely left in the cold.

Rather, I think it's that they don't think it makes them, or Islam, look bad. We don't have a strong concept of honor as an important or zero sum matter, so it isn't obvious to us that humiliating and intimidating an embassy or two in response to the perceived humiliation of the Prophet does anyone much good. Since the result has been that the US has, apparently, taken state action to punish and quell the speech, though, even in western terms this has to be seen as a victory for the anti-blasphemy lobby.

I should note that I'm not suggesting that the claims that the film was the trigger for the attacks rather than the anniversary of the 2001 attacks, but merely that these the impact of these attacks on the question of blasphemy was successful from the point of view of the attackers in both local and western paradigms. As such, it doesn't seem foolish to me.


Robert Jones

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