Date: 14 September 2012
By Abdel Bari Atwan
I have lived in the United Kingdom for 35 years, and I have never written a single word that could be considered skeptical towards the Holocaust – I have never dared to insult Jewish people or Judaism. Western countries, quite rightly, have firm laws to punish anti-Semitism. Anyone who voices criticism of the Israelis will find themselves dissuaded from doing so by concerted defamation campaigns and academic boycott. I have had my fair share of all that.
Meanwhile, abusing Islam, Muslims and the Prophet Mohammed is completely legal in those very same countries. Those who voice these opinions are considered heroes who receive honours everywhere they go. They enjoy full protection from the police. Insulting Islam is seen as the perfect representation of the freedom of speech in the West.
We are used to Islam being insulted. Almost every year has brought a new example, from Salman Rushdie’s novel, The Satanic Verses, to the Danish cartoonist who mocked the Prophet Mohammed, and finally last year the American pastor Terry Jones who burnt a copy of the Koran in the courtyard of his church.
Western governments, the US administration in particular, have seen this week’s outrage across the Moslem world occasioned by a blasphemous film. People were even shot dead by security forces to prevent them breaking into US embassies and in Benghazi the US Ambassador and three colleagues were murdered. Yet none of these governments has stepped forward to outlaw Islamophobia.
Although these governments claim that they are working in a highly advanced and civilised way, they have once again proved their stupidity and inability to understand the Arab world.
Free and fair elections in the Arab Spring countries saw the Islamists triumph in parliamentary elections. In Egypt and Tunisia they won a majority, and Libya the Islamist-backed candidate Mohammed Magarief won the Presidency of the ruling General National Congress. That means the general sentiment in the region is leaning towards the Islamist ideology. However, the US administration which possesses the most effective security and intelligence agencies in the world, allowed the production of a suspicious movie that was overtly abusive to Islam and Prophet Mohammed.
This movie was the fruit of a venomous collaboration between Islam haters. It was produced by an extremist Coptic association that already had form fomenting sectarian strife between Muslims and Copts in Egypt. The movie was funded by Israeli businessmen and apparently directed by a little-known Israeli filmmaker. Then it was championed by the infamous pastor Terry Jones. Could anyone have expected anything other than an explosive reaction to such a product?
We absolutely reject the United States condemnation of “extremist Islamists” over the recent attacks. The United States used to support those extremists when they were serving their own ends. Don’t the US administration and Mrs. Clinton know that the Islamist Jihadists have made the biggest contribution in overthrowing Muammer Gaddafi’s regime in Libya? Don’t they know that those Jihadists are currently fighting fiercely in Syria in order to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s regime?
We are sick of this American hypocrisy. The US administration said that it supports the Arab uprisings demanding dignity, human rights and democracy, yet this administration remains silent on those who insult Islam and Muslims, and even grants them protection.
US President Barack Obama has dispatched Marines to Libya in order to protect the US embassy there, as Libya no longer has its own professional security forces for this mission. He also threatened to take revenge on those who targetted the US embassies, as the attacks are considered a declaration of war according to the US constitution. But a simple question might be asked here, why didn’t the United States help Libya in building a powerful army and professional security forces after the fall of Gaddafi’s regime? The United States, the British and the French disappeared from Libya as soon as they were assured that Gaddafi was gone, and that the oil would again flow to their refineries on the same terms as before. Since then, there hasn’t been a single meeting for “the friends of Libya” to discuss how to rebuild the country and its institutions. They only hold secret meetings to discuss their shares in Libyan oil.
The US administration sent several experts to the Arab world after they invaded Iraq in order to try to discover the reasons behind Muslim hostility towards them. They also spent billions of US dollars on propaganda campaigns and media outlets to improve their image in the region, including the al-Hurra TV and the Sawa radio stations. Now the US administration watches all these efforts collapsing and their old disreputable image returning because they allowed this miserable movie to insult prophet Mohammed.
As today is Friday, more demonstrations are expected to take place in the Arab world. More embassies are expected to be stormed, as outrage amongst the Muslims reached boiling point on the day Muslims go to the mosque for Friday prayers. One million people in Cairo are explected to head to Tahrir square after prayer to protest against this movie. The possibility of violence is not ruled out.
I would emphasize, however, that our insistence on the necessity of showing respect for Islam does not mean that we agree with storming or burning the US embassies; we only support peaceful and civilized protest.
Some have attributed these latest developments to a Republican plot against President Obama aimed at reducing his chances of winning the presidential elections. This is an internal issue which the Americans might be interested in, but as for us, we only want to stop these frequent and deliberate insults to more than one and half billion Muslims in the world.
We are sick of all the insults we have been exposed to from the Americans and their Israeli allies. These insults must be stopped immediately, through laws that criminalize all actions considered abusive to Islam and all the other religions, as there is a significant difference between the freedom of speech, and the freedom to abuse.nd all the other religions, as there is a significant difference between the freedom of speech, and the freedom to abuse.
The views of the author do not necessarily reflect the views of Index News