US president Barack Obama in his address to the UN General Assembly said that the “crude and disgusting” video was no excuse for an “attack on America.” He began his address, his last before the Presidential elections, by remembering Christopher Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya who was killed in Libya during the attack on the embassy on 9th September.
A friend of mine had this up as her Facebook status recently: “Freedom of speech does not give you the freedom to mock religious sentiments and explain it as a freedom right when all you do is promote a pathetic provocative act. The freedom of speech is to justify and protect right from wrong, it comes with responsibilities, but of course the French are too stupid to understand that.” This was following the issue of the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo publishing demeaning cartoons of the prophet.
Both these incidences happened almost back to back and have lead to widespread protests and violence. The main culprit is ‘Innocence of the Muslims’ directed by Alan Roberts who made soft core porn movies in the 1970’s and 80’s. With friends of the director claiming that he was duped by the producers, lead to believe that he was shooting a period classic about ancient Egypt but had no clue that the movie would be edited and dubbed into a piece of ‘Islamophobic propaganda’.
The movie has enraged many Muslims around the world for its portrayal of the Prophet as a fraud, a womanizer and a child molester. At least 51 people, including Christopher Stevens and American civilians in Benghazi have been killed so far.
Pakistani railways minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilou, offered to pay $100,000 to anyone who killed the director of the movie and even appealed to the Al-Qaida and Taliban militants to contribute to the ‘noble cause’ of eliminating the filmmaker. While his comments were heavily criticized in the country, this just goes to show the way the people think.
Most of everyone agrees that the movie is not in good taste, mercilessly bashes the religious sentiments of the Islamic community and therefore many countries have banned it as a result.
What I don’t get is why such controversial issues happen around only one religion and why are the public’s sentiments so easy to arouse? If people want to protest and revolt, revolt on the issue. As Obama rightly said, the movie was made by an American, not by America. Punishing innocent civilians living in a far off land, makes no sense to me.
What people need to realize quickly, is the fact that the more you react, the more others pick on you. It’s your basic kindergarten scenario. The kid who got scared the earliest was picked on by the bullies. As soon as you show any hint of emotion you become a soft target.
Religion has always been one of our sore points. A major reason to fight wars on, to bring down entire kingdoms for, for widespread massacres and for mindless brutality and terrorism, religion even today, continues to dictate politics.
I don’t understand religion or vote bank politics. “Religion is the opium of the masses”, said Karl Marx and very rightly when you observe the scenario today. But human beings as a race have not matured and it’s easy to needle them. They continue to seek solace in religion and anyone who speaks anything against their religion is eliminated or brought down. We have not grown up at all.
The audiences have to realize that the movie was made by an individual. It gives them no right to go around killing people who belong to the same nation or community as those of the creator. No religion ever preaches that you can take the life of another human being and mindless violence is abhorred in all.
And I wonder if any of the protesters have even watched the movie or not!
The filmmakers and the media also have to realize that ‘Freedom of Speech and Expression’ is not a curtain to hide behind. If you have the guts and the power to write or make something inflammatory then you should be willing to stand up for it and account for it. It’s your duty first and foremost to exercise the power you have with great caution. You know the reach of the medium and the consequences, why do something that will lead to people getting killed?
Nobody can please everyone but the creator can still discriminate between the right and the wrong. The field of mass communication requires this much common sense at least.
If someone can make an anti Islam movie, then there are many people who are also making pro Islam movies. There is always a balance but nobody talks about the ‘good’ and criticizes the people who are ‘bad’. Everyone needs to grow up.
I know it’s easier said than done, but with the Internet, the world has become a global village and it’s become easier to step on someone’s toes and anger people. So the onus to create and react maturely falls on everyone. Hopefully the coming generation will realize this.
Writer is a student at SIMC