Religion has once again become an excuse for violence. The recent posting of the trailer of hate-filled, low-quality, anti Islamic movie on youtube and resultant violence in many countries around the Muslim world once again re-affirms my belief that stupidity, ignorance and bigotry are not the monopoly of the followers of any given faith.
The movie is undoubtedly deeply offensive to all descent people, not just the Muslims. Many people of other faiths, including secretary of state Hillary Clinton, have expressed their disgust in no uncertain words. All signs point to a Southern California Coptic Christian by the name of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula as the main player behind the filming, aided by a Christian activist, Steve Klein, who is an insurance agent, a Vietnam war veteran and an Islamophobe. Nakoula is an ex-con and according to AP, pleaded no contest in 2010 to federal bank fraud charges in California and was ordered to pay more than $790,000 in restitution. The toxic product of their work stretches freedom of speech in the United States to its limits. Where do you draw the line between the right to free speech, and promoting hate and deeply insulting another person, let alone someone so deeply revered by 1.6 billion people on planet earth. One wonders if an American Muslim had made a similar denigrating movie on Prophet Jesus Christ or Moses, would the film have made it to Internet or other outlets.
The reaction in the Muslim world was rather predictable, given past experience involving similar assaults on the Islamic religion such as the burning of the Quran and the Danish cartoon depicting Prophet Muhammad in a very negative light. However the response in Libya was unexpected in that it involved violent attack on the US consulate and the unfortunate death of the American ambassador and three other Americans. News media reports indicate that the killings were likely undertaken by Islamic extremists who may have used the cover of the anti-movie protest to undertake a pre-planned attack. The alleged group is linked to the rebels who were aided by NATO and United States to topple the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. Hillary Clinton loudly wondered after the murder of ambassador Chris Stevens as to how a country that the NATO countries and we helped in getting rid of a dictator could turn on their helpers. An appropriate, strong response by Muslims was indeed needed to express the hurt Muslim feelings. That strong response however, does not equate violence. A proper response must center on more civic engagement, open dialogue, and education about the real teachings of their faith, rather than violence.
As for the faith-based promotion of hate and inciting violence, it is an unfortunate but a predictable tired act. The so-called followers on both sides are once again ignoring the teachings of the scriptures they respect and cherish so much. According to the Quran, killing of an innocent person is like killing of entire humanity. It preaches interacting with Jews and Christians in “the best of manners” (The Quran 29:46 and 16:125). It urges the followers to repel evil with what’s better (“And not alike are the good and the evil. Repel (evil) with what is best.” 41:34). Similarly, the Bible urges its followers to be kind and repel evil with goodness, and to not condemn others. Don’t judge others, and you won’t be judged. Don’t condemn others, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (Matthew 7:1). “But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12 and Luke 14:11).
Do the hate-mongerers involved in this filmmaking really represent the true teachings and the spirit of Christianity? Does the film have the “approved by Jesus” stamp? Similarly, the killers of the US ambassador will find it impossible to find a religious justification for their criminal act, in either the Quran or the Sunnah (sayings and actions) of the very prophet they are defending so vigorously.
The moderate silent majority can no longer afford to remain silent. They must convey to the world how they really feel about the ignorant people of all faiths.
“Not in our name please! You do not represent us!”