Saturday, 15 September 2012

Scotland Tonight : Scottish Muslim women aim to challenge misconceptions with exhibition

Mona Eltahawy: What sparked the violence in Egypt?

Lupe Fiasco counters anti-Islam video


US media angrily marvels at the lack of Muslim gratitude

By Glenn Greenwald - www.guardian.co.uk - Copyright All Rights Reserved 

One prominent strain shaping American reaction to the protests in the Muslim world is bafflement, and even anger, that those Muslims are not more grateful to the US. After all, goes this thinking, the US bestowed them with the gifts of freedom and democracy – the very rights they are now exercising – so how could they possibly be anything other than thankful? Under this worldview, it is especially confounding that the US, their savior and freedom-provider, would be the target of their rage.

On Wednesday, USA Today published an article with the headline "After attacks in Egypt and Libya, USA Today asks: Why?" The paper appeared to tell its readers that it was the US that freed the Egyptian people from tyranny

"Attacks in Libya that left four US diplomats dead – including Ambassador Christopher Stevens – and a mob invasion of the US Embassy in Cairo, in which the US flag was torn to shreds, have left many to wonder: How can people the USA helped free from murderous dictators treat it in such a way?"

Did you know that the "USA helped free" Egyptians from their murderous dictator? On Thursday night, NBC News published a nine-minute report on Brian Williams' "Rock Center" program featuring its foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, reporting on the demonstrations in Cairo, which sounded exactly the same theme. Standing in front of protesting Egyptians in Tahrir Square, Engel informed viewers that this was all so very baffling because it was taking place "in Cairo, where the US turned its back on its old friend Hosni Mubarak", and then added:

"It is somewhat ironic with American diplomats inside the embassy who helped to give these demonstrators, these protesters, a voice, and allowed them to actually carry out these anti-American clashes that we're seeing right now."

That it was the US who freed Egyptians and "allowed them" the right to protest would undoubtedly come as a great surprise to many Egyptians. That is the case even beyond the decades of arming, funding and general support from the US for their hated dictator (to his credit, Engel including a snippet of an interview with Tariq Ramadan pointing out that the US long supported the region's dictators).

Beyond the long-term US support for Mubarak, Egyptians would likely find it difficult to reconcile Engel's claim that the US freed them with the "made in USA" logos on the tear gas cannisters used against them by Mubarak's security forces; or with Hillary Clinton's touching 2009 declaration that "I really consider President and Mrs Mubarak to be friends of my family"; or with Obama's support for Mubarak up until the very last minute when his downfall became inevitable; or with the fact that the Obama administration plan was to engineer the ascension of the loathed, US-loyal torturer Omar Suleiman as Mubarak's replacement in the name of "stability".

Given the history of the US in Egypt, both long-term and very recent, it takes an extraordinary degree of self-delusion and propaganda to depict Egyptian anger toward the US as "ironic" on the ground that it was the US who freed them and "allowed" them the right to protest. But that is precisely the theme being propagated by most US media outlets.

Even in Libya, where it's certainly true that many Libyans are happy about the Nato intervention, this bafflement is misplaced. It's always the case that some portion of the populace of an invaded nation will be happy about even the most unjustified invasions: that the Kurds are thrilled by the Iraq war is a fact still cited by Iraq war advocates as proof of the war's justness and wisdom.

But it's also the case that such invasions produce extreme anger, as well: among the families of those killed by the invading forces, or who suffer from the resulting lawlessness and instability. Combine that with the fact that it was repeatedly noted that US involvement in Libya meant that anti-US extremists, including al-Qaida, were being armed and empowered by the US, it is far from mystifying, as Secretary Clinton insisted, that some people in Libya are deeply hostile to the US and want to do it harm.

In the same report, Engel also spent several moments explaining that the primary reason these Muslims have such animosity toward the US is because their heads have been filled for years with crazy conspiracy theories about how the US and Israel are responsible for their woes. These conspiracies, he said, were fed to them by their dictators to distract attention from their own corruption.

Let's leave aside the irony of the American media decrying crazy "conspiracy theories" in other countries, when it is the US that attacked another country based on nonexistent weapons and fabricated secret alliances with al-Qaida. One should acknowledge that there is some truth to Engel's claim that the region's tyrants fueled citizen rage toward the US and Israel as a means of distracting from their own failings and corruption.

But to act as though Muslim anger toward the US and Israel is primarily the by-product of crazy conspiracy theories is itself a crazy conspiracy theory. It's in the world of reality, not conspiracy, where the US and Israel have continuously brought extreme amounts of violence to the Muslim world, routinely killing their innocent men, women and children. Listening to Engel, one would never know about tiny little matters like the bombing of Gaza and Lebanon, the almost five-decade long oppression of Palestinians, the widely hated, child-killing drone campaign, or the attack on Iraq.

And it's in the world of reality, not conspiracy, where the US really has continuously interfered in their countries' governance by propping up and supporting their dictators. Intense Muslim animosity toward the US, including in Egypt, long pre-dates this film, and the reasons aren't hard to discern. That's precisely why the US supported tyranny in these countries for so long: to ensure that the citizens' views, so contrary to US policy, would be suppressed and rendered irrelevant.

It doesn't take a propagandized populace to be angry at the US for such actions. It takes a propagandized populace to be shocked at that anger and to view it with bafflement and resentment on the ground that they should, instead, be grateful because we "freed" them.

But to see why exactly such a propagandized populace exists in the US and has been led to believe such myth and conspiracies, simply read that USA Today article or watch the NBC News report on these protests as they convince Americans that gratitude, rather than resentment, should be the sentiment people in that region feel toward the US.

Friday, 14 September 2012

YouTube Terrorism by Professor Bruce Lawrence

  •  Published at www.religiondispatches.org
    All Rights Reserved, Copyright


    An American ambassador is killed in the line of duty for the first time in 33 years. Three others perish with him. An American consulate is destroyed. At the same time, an American flag is torched, while another diplomatic post, an embassy, is stormed in a neighboring Arab Muslim country. Days later, further outbursts against American officials and diplomatic sites occur in two other Arab Muslim countries.
    The headlines are here stripped of their local names, not to protect the innocent but to show the pattern of a creeping violence that has precedence and yet, at another level, is unprecedented.
    What makes the current saga surreal is the seamless manner in which a hackneyed 14-month-old movie becomes the flashpoint for violence against American officialdom in the Arab Muslim world, and that it came both on the anniversary of 9/11 and during an intense presidential election season.

    The two issues at stake are opposite: 1) Freedom of speech, which includes the freedom to poach on the fine line between public critique and satire (allowed), and defamation or hate speech (not allowed); and 2) Protection of U.S. interests, including and especially diplomatic posts and personnel serving the U.S. government abroad in a variety of other conflict settings.
    Much will be made of the murky elements on both sides: On the one hand, who made this low-budget, scurrilous, and artistically deficient movie? (See Sarah Posner’s excellent detective work on that question); and on the other, who initiated the attack on American outposts in Cairo, Benghazi, and perhaps also Sanaa?

    Whoever “Sam Bacile” turns out to be (most likely Coptic ex-patriot Nakoula Basseley Nakoula), he said one thing correctly: “This film was not about religion but about politics.” Whoever made, then distributed the “trailer” for Innocence of Muslims was trying to score points against Muslims, though perhaps they didn’t intend to provoke the violent outburst that has wrought such destruction at hypersensitive urban nodes in the rapidly changing Arab Muslim world. What seems more and more likely is that the video itself was simply the pretext for a pre-planned attack, likely by al-Qaeda operatives or sympathizers. But that still raises the question: how did a B movie get rendered into Arabic, then used to justify an attack on American sites overseas?

    The two principles—freedom of speech and protection of American diplomats—become entangled when the internet makes possible not just the distribution but the reemergence of visual production (a movie, a clip, a trailer) at a delicate moment; in this case, the anniversary of 9/11. Beyond all the issues that have been discussed, debated, and fine-tuned since the 9/11/12 tragedy in Benghazi, one central point has been missed, and it needs to be made again and again and again: expect the unexpected, look for the unrelated to be connected, then projected for the interest of dissident groups savvy about the nature of the modern world and, above all, media ‘neutrality.’

    There are no topics so hateful or obscene that they’re debarred from the Internet. They travel virally in a world that welcomes them but cannot monitor either their content or their impact. What al-Qaeda did today, other ill-wishers or polemicists or terrorists can, and will likely, do tomorrow.

    This is the greatest, and sobering, lesson of the death and destruction that came out of the 9/11/12 debacle. Alas, it is a part of our brave new world of endless information and mindless usage of that information. Gertrude Himmelfarb once observed: “Like postmodernism, the Internet does not distinguish between the true and the false, the important and the trivial, the enduring and the ephemeral.” 

    Had she added “between the sanitized and the incendiary” her words would have predicted what we saw in Benghazi but, alas, will see loss of life and property in other places during the still young but perilous 21st century. It is a century, our century, that belongs neither to the USA nor to China, neither to imperialists nor terrorists, but to the CyberKingdom and to those who grasp the endless good and evil wrought by the Information Age.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Looking at Libya, and at Ourselves

By Hussein Rashid
Published at www.religiondispatches.org
All Rights Reserved, Copyright
 

This morning, my friend and colleague, Haroon Moghul, wrote a piece on the violence in Libya and Egypt—exactly what we needed to hear based on the information we had earlier today. But it now appears that the attacks against American interests in North Africa had little to do with the racist, oddly pornographic film about Muhammad, but was part of a coordinated Al-Qaeda plot to avenge the death of one of their own.

We have become so conditioned to assume that Muslims are so sensitive to slights that they have no regard for human life—a contradiction I cannot understand—that we collectively assumed that the film was the proximate cause of the attack on the embassies. Many of us have argued, especially during the Danish cartoon crisis, that much of the outrage we see in the Muslim-majority world is geared to serving local political concerns, and are not representative of the larger population. As Haroon points out, these events were feared to be the sign of an Arab winter after the Arab Spring, and that the Arab world really was violently reactionary.


Today’s events show us something else: rational actors, who died tried to protect the American who gave so much to them. There are numerous reports of Libyans dying protecting the compound where Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed, taking him to a hospital, and having both people on the street and the government of Libya saying this does not represent them.

As Sarah Posner, Laura Rozen, Max Blumenthal, and Jeff Goldberg have all pointed out, the so-called “Israeli Jew,” who raised $5 million from 100 “Jews,” is probably a made-up identity that has nothing to do with Israel or Judaism. This use of a Jewish identity plays into another stereotype, that Jews and Muslims hate each other. It would have been easy to craft a story that divided Copts in Egypt from Muslims and Jews and Muslims because of these stereotypes. Although, if you actually watch the film, you see that it is filled with recycled anti-Semitic portrayals of the man interested only in money and “good” women.

Instead of looking for “savages” over “there,” perhaps we should look at home. The creators of this film wanted it to create violence and almost seem to be proud that Al-Qaeda is using their film for propaganda. I firmly believe in free speech, including the responsibilities that come with it. But should we allow speech that instigates violence? The longer we sit with a story of what we think we know about violence and Muslims, the more violence we fail to perceive, right in our midst.

Why Are Muslims So Concerned with Muhammad?

By Haroon Moghul
Published at www.religiondispatches.org
All Rights Reserved, Copyright

Following the recent violence in Libya and the storming of the U.S. embassy in Egypt, many media outlets will report that Muslims find portrayals of the Prophet Muhammad—images, videos, movies—to be blasphemous and offensive.

While many Muslims (especially Sunnis) find portrayals of the Prophet Muhammad, and other sacred religious figures (Jesus, Mary, Moses, etc.) to be offensive in and of themselves, this doesn’t quite explain the degree of offense Muslims feel when the Prophet Muhammad is mocked. As was the case in “The Innocence of Muslims,” that film that is supposed to offend me but, based on the 14-minute trailer, only embarrasses me… and leads me to ask two desperate questions: How is it that a $5 million budget can buy you so little? And, who produces a 14-minute trailer? That’s just offensive.


In Islam, the Qur’an is the literal word of God, and Muhammad represents the embodiment of those words of God. If you want to know what Islam is in text, go to the Qur’an; if you want to know what Islam is in action, study Muhammad’s life. That’s what Muslims do. They study it, debate it, and investigate it obsessively. Muslims believe the road to goodness, to moral excellence and success in the afterlife, comes through an emulation of the Prophet (though that doesn’t mean humans don’t have an innate moral compass). As such, mocking the Prophet is offensive for several reasons (to say nothing of the long history of Western intervention in the Middle East and the traumatic aftereffects of colonialism, which could be a whole article itself). For one thing, Muhammad is dear to Muslim hearts in the way Jesus is to many Christians: He brought us enlightenment.

But Muhammad is also dear to Muslim hearts because Muslims strive to be like him, to the extent of looking like him (and his close family and companions, with some differences between Muslim sects.) Muslim men grow facial hair because Muhammad did. They dress in certain ways, eat in certain ways, and behave in certain ways, based on how Muhammad did. This isn’t to say there isn’t tremendous disagreement over these behaviors, and many Muslims struggle over whether to emphasize the spirit and the form of the action, as many others do—indeed, we have the same debate over the American Constitution up till the present. But to say Muslims are offended by portrayals of Muhammad is missing the point… many Muslims are busy making themselves, internally and externally, into Muhammads.

And it is a mark of faith to believe no one can approximate his character entirely.

To mock Muhammad, then, is to mock what Muslims aspire to be, throughout their lives. Muhammad is not a divine or infallible figure in Islam, but he is the “mercy to all the worlds,” the best of God’s creation. As such, it deserves stressing that the reaction of a minority of Muslims to offensive portrayals of the Prophet, while inseparable from the present political climate, still does a massive and embarrassing disservice to Muhammad’s image—their actions are far more offensive than the efforts of silly filmmakers with unintentionally hilarious scripts.

I recall learning in a conservative Sunday school how, time and again, Muhammad would forgive his enemies, and even inquire after them when they didn’t show up to mock him, abuse him, or even dump their garbage on him.

Muslims see Muhammad as the last in a line of Prophets, all of whom must be believed in—Muhammad isn’t very different from Jesus, stressing, time and again, reconciliation and cooperation. It is hoped that this latest spasm of violence can be understood in this larger context. Hopefully we can take this moment to think about how Islam is frequently portrayed, and use this as an opportunity to learn a little bit more.

Tragic Violence in Libya: No Excuse for Perpetrators—or for Provocateurs By Haroon Moghul

  •  Published at Religion Dispatches (All Rights Reserved, Copyright)
    www.religiondispatches.org


    With the tragic killing of the American ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and several of his staff as a consequence of an attack on a US consulate in Benghazi (where the Libyan revolution, that we supported, began, I might add), and the nearly simultaneous storming of the US embassy in Cairo, maybe we’re now thinking: is it Iran all over again? Has the Arab Spring turned into an anti-American winter?

    I remember thinking, about Western intervention in Libya, that this all had a familiar ring to it. But perhaps this time would be different, many of us hoped. How, though, one conflict can escape the reality of its conditions and not realize certain consequences is beyond me. If you overthrow a dictatorship that has suffocated the political, social, and cultural life of a country for decades you invite some measure of anarchy, especially when the forces that overthrow that dictatorship are divided amongst themselves.

    Certainly, the New York Times is correct to point out that such violence only indicates the continuing unpopularity of America in much of the Middle East—we would do well to consider how America’s government’s policies become hopelessly imbricated in the actions of anti-Muslim bigots here and in Europe. But this violence isn’t a simple response to American policies (nor is this evidence of a congenitally Islamic inability to accept criticism), and cannot be dismissed as such.

    There are a few points to keep in mind as we try to understand how an amateurish fourteen-minute film produces such a dramatically disproportionate and wholly offensive counter-reaction.

    First, the storming of the US embassy in Iran was quickly hijacked by the hardline Ayatollahs who used confrontation with America as a pretext to seize control of the Iranian revolution and crush one-time revolutionary allies, such as liberals, Islamic socialists, Marxists, and plain old nationalists of uncertain ideology. Of course, the Shah of Iran, like the latter-day Qaddafi and Mubarak, were dictatorial and repressive heads of state supported by us, but that doesn’t mean that the Ayatollahs didn’t strategically use anti-American sentiment to bolster their own power and sideline their enemies.

    There is no one comparable to the Ayatollah Khomeini in either Egypt or in Libya. In Libya, government forces even battled the attackers who torched the US consulate; Libyan government officials, many of whom began their revolt in Benghazi and knew Christopher Stevens, promptly issued an apology to the American people. We should thus consider how local forces might use anti-American sentiment strategically, and understand the difference between anti-American sentiment and the ends towards which it is put. So far, these attacks seem to be outbursts of anger, and not directed acts of political intrigue.

    Second, it is depressing how easily anti-Muslim sentiment can trigger violent response—among a minority of Muslims. Certainly it deserves noting that violence in Libya and Egypt against our country was the action of a minority, but the minority that is willing to resort to violence, spectacle, and brutality always looms larger in the mind than the quiet majority. The fact that many, if not most, Muslims may be offended by anti-Muslim screeds and yet not resort to violence or even make any kind of protest will likely be ignored. (I, for example, find the film in question—on which more below—to be disgusting, but I never bothered to write anything on it until now.)

    Third, certain patterns remain in effect even eleven years after the September 11 attacks. This is also depressing. The attacks on the US Consulate in Libya and the US Embassy in Cairo were allegedly in response to the aforementioned short film that links contemporary Muslim violence against religious minorities to a caricature of Islam’s last Prophet (not, as the Times put it, its “founding” prophet—Islam’s founding prophet would be Adam, as in the Adam of Adam and Eve.) This film was produced by a man who calls Islam a “cancer,” and was promoted by Terry Jones, who seems to best love undermining his country’s soldiers and diplomats time and again.

    Consider for a moment: How do we think this kind of film plays out in the minds of those to whom American foreign policy seems wrapped up in anti-Muslim sentiment? (Consider, for example, how the fate of Adnan Latif is read across the Atlantic.)

    Terry Jones, mind you, is the same pastor who made a public spectacle of burning a Qur’an; he also reportedly hanged President Obama in effigy. Consider him a political actor who exploits anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world to dramatically complicate our government’s policies, and thus hurt President Obama. He has an amazing ability to insert himself into controversies or create them, and then cause endless headaches for our government, not to mention throwing away the billions upon billions of dollars that our government has spent.
    That the majority of Americans want to have nothing to do with Terry Jones or fringe anti-Muslim films is likewise clearly lost on some Muslims, for whom the spectacle of violence against Islam—burned Qur’ans at a Florida church are inseparable in the minds of some from insults against Islam wrapped into techniques of torture and humiliation at Abu Ghraib—is cause for violent action. This is reprehensible, and clearly and openly un-Islamic. The Prophet Muhammad is famous in the Islamic tradition for being “a mercy to all the worlds,” so kind and gentle that he once rent his own garment—no small thing for a man who lived most of his life in severe poverty—so as not to wake up a cat that had fallen asleep on his arm.

    Further, the absurdity of trying to defend the honor of Islam by engaging in behavior that only encourages the further mockery of Islam’s most important figure shouldn’t even need to be pointed out. But there you have it. Worse still, time and again such behavior leads to disastrous consequences for Muslim communities and individuals. Worse still, the reprehensible actions of the few target and often kill the best people. Ambassador Christopher Stevens was well liked in Libya, and a veteran of postings across the Middle East. He was the kind of person the American government is lucky to have on its side. (I remember, some years back, that a famous Muslim filmmaker, who had made the first big-budget movie about the Prophet Muhammad, was killed by al-Qaeda in one of its typical indiscriminate attacks. He was attending his daughter’s wedding.)

    But in mourning Stevens’ loss, and the loss of other of our diplomatic staff, we should also consider the childish behavior of some Americans that contributes to such heartache. Pastor Terry Jones’ burning of the Qur’an last year led to riots and deaths in Afghanistan, not to mention his foolishly endangering the thousands of troops, diplomats, and other Americans still stationed there. His promotion of this latest film has now contributed in some way to violence in Libya and Egypt, and that includes the death of one of our best ambassadors.

    We are on the precipice of war with Iran. The Middle East is deeply unstable, and we are unfortunately caught up in much of that uncertainty. This is not the time for inflammatory action; there are anti-democratic forces in the region who would relish the chance to create or exploit controversy and use it, on the Iranian model, to further their suffocating ends. In light of that, we should ask: What is Terry Jones doing, as much as we should ask, what are Islamic extremists doing?

    When you know an action will lead to a violent counter-reaction, the victims of which are your fellow Americans, what does it mean when you continue to engage in it, and with a sick kind of enthusiasm? (Muslim extremists regularly engage in actions that bring harm upon their fellow Muslims, and seem to think nothing of it.) Does Jones selfishly think himself the only brave American, naively upturning delicately constructed foreign policy and difficult questions of strategy and policy, in the name of some kind of stand for freedom? That is too easy an excuse.

12 Essential points about the offensive film on the Prophet Muhammad, and the subsequent reactions in Libya & Egypt

by Omid Safi
Professor of Islamic Studies at UNC Chapel Hill, USA
Published at www.religionnews.com (All Rights Reserved, Copyright)

The hateful piece of propaganda about the Prophet Muhammad, known as “Innocence of Muslims” continues to have repercussions around the world, due to the attacks on the US Embassy in Libya and Egypt.   There is no mistaking the offensive nature of the film, as it accusing the Prophet of having been a womanizer, a fool, a sexual pervert, and a homosexual (though that last “insult” plays into homophobia).  There is also no mistaking the fact that the murder of the four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens is cruel and barbaric by any measure.

Here are twelve points to keep in mind, in an attempt to bring some sanity to a controversy that has already generated far more heat than light:


1)  This is not an issue of Freedom of Speech vs. religious sensitivity.
Every time that there is an offensive piece written to target Muslim sensitivities, there is the temptation to cast it as an issue of “freedom of speech”, held to be absolute, vs. the religious sensitivity of Muslims.    That framework is either unhelpful or at best only partially helpful.   In reality, pieces like the “Innocence of Muslims” so-called film are best classified as “hate speech”, as they seem to be of the same genre as anti-Semitic films of the 1930’s or Birth of the Nation KKK movies.
The issue of freedom of speech vs. religious sensitivity also misses the point because it assumes—falsely—that Muslims are only capable of religious sensitivity.    Muslims, whether in relatively free societies like Turkey or under more oppressive regimes like Iran and Saudi Arabia have rich traditions of filmmaking, political cartoons, and satire.   Many journalists and satirists in these countries are actually paying a price for their upholding of freedom of speech.    Those are the people that are truly deserving of the spotlight, not the hate propaganda producers.

2)   Al-Qaeda, not Libyans, is behind the murder of the US ambassador
The assassination of the US ambassador is not the work of the Libyan people, or religious groups, but rather the operation of al-Qaeda.     The overlapping timing with the anniversary of 9/11 lends credit to this being an al-Qaeda plot that was pre-planned.   So does the heavy amount of weaponry carried to the assault on the US compound.  

3)  The Libyan authorities and religious scholars have condemned this attack.
  The Libyan President condemned the attacks in clear and unequivocal terms:
Libyan President Mohamed Magariaf stated:
"We refuse that our nation's lands be used for cowardice and revengeful acts. It is not a victory for God's Sharia or his prophet for such disgusting acts to take place….We apologize to the United States, the people of America, and the entire world. We and the American government are standing on the same side, we stand on the same side against outlaws."

4)  The Libyan people have demonstrated against the assassination of the ambassador. 
This is one of the more underreported aspects of this crisis so far, the fact that Libyan people’s own voice has not been heard from in the Western press.    Hopefully these pictures will go some ways towards addressing that.   (there are a few endearing spelling mistakes, like “Profit” for “Prophet”; “Pehavior” for “behavior”).


5)   The producers of the film openly admit to being Islam-haters.
There is some equivocation about this claim, as the producer, "Sam Bacile", is a shadowy figure.       Whoever the producer is, he has now gone into hiding, having achieving his insidious aim of throwing fuel on the flame.
If the initial reports on Wall St. Journal and the Guardian were to be believed, the “film” is produced by an Israeli real estate agent based in California who admits his hatred for Islam by confessing his view that “Islam is a cancer.”   Bacile reported to the Associated Press that he raised 5 million dollars reportedly from “100 American Jews.” 

There is great reason to be suspicious about almost every aspect of the above.  In fact, the attribution of the "film"'s funding to "100 American Jews" may well be a bit of misdirection on behalf of the producers.   The BBC reports:  “But extensive efforts by BBC reporters to trace Mr Bacile - through his credentials as a filmmaker or a real-estate agent - have so far proved fruitless.”  There are no known internet references to Sam Bacile except for the youtube account that was used to upload the “film.”

Furthermore, “Sam Bacile” doesn’t seem to be the name of any recognized California real estate personality.

The latest report by the AP suggest that “Sam Bacile” is in fact a fabricated identity by an American Coptic extremist, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who concocted the story of the Israeli real estate/filmmaker persona.   “Bacile”, might in fact be an alternate spelling of his own middle name, Basseley.

There are also reports that tie the shadowy producer to a “Steve Klein”, who seems to be affiliated with a few Islamophobic groups and neo-Confederate rightwing militia, as well as endorsing anti-Mormon, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, and anti-Catholic policies.    He is also affiliated with the same network of Islamophobes such as Robert Spencer and Daniel Pipes that inspired the Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik. 
Klein is also affiliated with Kaweah, which was identified as a hate group by Southern Poverty Law Center.

6)   The producer—whoever he is—has the right to produce his propaganda, even if it is hateful speech. 
However, we do not have the obligation to provide him with a podium by offering him the very media access that he (like many other extremists) craves.   He confesses that he showed the film to a mostly empty movie theater in Hollywood over the summer.   This is a calculated and manipulated campaign to generate publicity by appealing to the most hateful of people in every faith community.

7)  The distribution of the film has benefited from Terry Jones, yes, the same idiotic Qur’an-burning pastor in Florida of whom the President Obama and General Petraeus have said that his reckless and hateful actions are endangering the lives of American citizens.

8)   The youtube “film” was picked up by a fringe group of Coptic radicals.  Copts are indigenous Egyptian Christians who have at times had a tense relationship with the Muslim majority, although the majority of the Copts supported the overthrow of Mubarak during the Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt.   Mainstream Coptic organizations in Egypt have already condemned this movie, and the “film” does not represent the views of Copts.

9)   American Muslim organizations have uniformly condemned the assassination of the American Ambassador.  
This includes Council for American Islamic Relation ; Islamic Society of North America; and Islamic Circle of North America.

10)   This violent response to assaults on the dignity of the Prophet is not the example of the Prophet himself. 
Simply put, this is not What Muhammad Would Do.

The Prophet Muhammad himself was repeatedly mocked, cursed, and even stoned during his life.   As I documented in my book, Memories of Muhammad, his enemies even paid to have children stone him, yet Muhammad refused to curse enemies, as he was sent as a “mercy to all the worlds” according to the words of the Qur’an.

Furthermore, the Qur’an lays out an ethical standard for how one is to respond to evil, and the command is clear: “Repel evil with something that is better, lovelier.”    It’s moments that like that people of faith, of all faith, any faith, including the Islamic faith, have to reach deep into their hearts and live out the true meanings of their creeds.

As the American Muslim playwright Wajahat Ali said:
“By choosing violence as a response, the embassy attackers ironically & tragically betray the legacy, spirit & wisdom of the Prophet Muhammad - he who was repeatedly insulted, mocked, and pelted with trash and stones but chose to reply with patient etiquette and generosity. Extremism begets extremism. This tragedy in Libya calls for moderation & reconciliation. Voices of calm, understanding & peace must now rise and be heard. #benghazi”
11)  The producers of the film lied to their actors and crew about the content of the film.  
The crew of the film did not know that this was an anti-Muhammad film.  The producers went back and dubbed in the anti-Muhammad message into it post-production.
In other words, the deception about the “film” is not just about the funders and producers, they even deceived the actors in the “film.”  See interview with one of the actresses here.


12)  We have a choice how to respond.
It is up to us, to each of us, to decide which path to pursue:   each of us can choose to pursue the path of the extremists in the Jewish community that (allegedly) funded the film, the extremists in the Christian community that spread the “film”, or the path of the extremists of the Muslim community that reacted to the “film” with violence.
Or, we can respond to these catastrophes the way that President Obama reacted to the anniversary of 9/11 by reminding us that our fates are bound up together.    Obama said:  “There's no them and us - it's just us”

As Dr. King reminded us, we are caught up in an inescapable network of mutuality. 
We can find examples of this same ethical commitment in the Muslim community, such as the pictures of the courageous Libyans who shared their humanity, their grief, and their hearts with Americans. It is the pictures of these Libyans that grace this essay.