Editorial: Un-Islamic violence
Paper Edition | Page: 6
The killing of US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens is an unacceptable tragedy. As outraged as Muslims may be by the release of a film that made a mockery of the Prophet Muhammad, it should not have been used as a pretext for violence. The Libyan government cannot escape blame for its failure to protect the lives of diplomats.
The film was clearly made with the intention of provoking anger and unrest in the Muslim world. The producers of the film must be pleased that they achieved just that. There has been a similar violent — though fortunately not deadly — reaction in Egypt and Yemen. All the protestors were venting anger at American embassies or interests, even after US President Barack Obama condemned the film in the harshest terms.
The violence may have been provoked, but there are dark forces at work taking advantage of anger in the Muslim world. The use of a rocket in the attack of the US consulate in Benghazi indicated that armed groups are out there looking to seize every opportunity to stir violence. They have been in cahoots with those who produced the film.
As the country with the world’s largest Muslim-majority population, Indonesia cannot assume there will not be any angry reactions now that the offending film is available on the Internet. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has rightly come out to strongly condemn the film and the violent reactions. When he spoke, he represented the sentiments of the majority of the people in this country. This would spare them from having to listen to agitators from radical groups who would use Islam as a pretext to attack US interests.
Muslim leaders must understand that this isn’t the first and certainly won’t be the last time that Islam, God and their Prophet will be the target of insults coming from the West, where free speech trumps all other rights. The Internet has broken geographical and time barriers. The Muslim world will have to live with this reality.
There are forces in other parts of the world that would use communications technology to wage a war of propaganda and hatred against their enemies. Muslims have to learn to start ignoring this propaganda. Looking at the violent response to the latest film on Prophet Muhammad, it seems that many Muslims are still too easily provoked. You fight propaganda with propaganda, and not with fire.
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