Recently a number of American embassies across the Middle East have come under attack. News programmes have been filled with burning buildings and stories of the dead. Each in their own way telling us what is happening, yet no one daring to tell us why. Doesn’t that make you curious?
The problem with news programmes as such is their desensitizing nature. We are so used to scenes of carnage in the Middle East that we tend to ignore the fact that most of what we watch is a consequence of some other action. It is incredibly rare for the TV cameras to be rolling for the cause. They only catch the effect.
This reality creates a disturbing mental trend. It links the Middle East with violence in our minds and in effect Muslims. The present troubles are a great example of such a thought process. Ask someone if they have seen pictures of the riots on the news. And then ask them if they know why they started.
The cause in this case was a film. A film which depicts the Prophet Mohammed as a sexual deviant, criminal and lunatic. A film which is extremely offensive, islamaphobic, disturbing and extremely bizarre. If you cast your minds back to the reaction a certain Danish cartoonist received, it is unquestionable that the makers of this film knew exactly what they were doing. It is without a doubt a provocation.
If we measure the reaction in the Middle East through Western eyes, it’s almost impossible to understand. The fact that ordinary people are screaming blue murder over a film, is almost as ridiculous as when they did over a cartoon. However this is exactly the problem. We cannot judge another culture from our own moral standards, as their culture is ANOTHER. Westerns standards are mostly inherited from Christian ideals, however flexible they may be. Judge not, lest ye be judged. Yet still we continue to tell ourselves that we would never behave that way, that we can laugh at ourselves, and that, that fact makes us less morally reprehensible.
The film entitled ‘Innocence of Muslims’ was initially reported as being made by an Israeli film maker named Sam Bacile. In the same reports a number of newspapers also claimed that the film was funded by 100 jewish donors. For many news sources it ticked all of the boxes. As it turns out Mr Bacile, doesn’t exist. Let’s not ask why someone would go to such lengths to hide his identity. Let us turn our attention to the man who has been unmasked as the film maker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. The first surprise is that he is American. The second is that he is a convicted criminal. And the third is that he is a Coptic Christian.
For those of you that don’t know Coptic Christians make up around 10% of the population of Egypt. For the last forty years Coptic Christians have been the subjects of a number of sectarian attacks, leading Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh to describe the situation as ‘an Arab Apartheid’.
Let’s recap. Presently, if the webpages of CNN and the New York Times are correct, an anti-islamic film was made by an American Coptic Christian. It was then translated into Arabic and uploaded to You Tube. It eventually was shown on Egyptian television and spread to Yemen, Libya and Lebanon. A number of cities erupted into violence. The most notable casualties were the American Ambassador to Libya and a number of his colleagues. Yet all our news stations continue to show are video footage of burning buildings and rioting youths.
I haven’t written this post to argue the rights and wrongs of this terrible situation, as I find it deplorable. I am not a Christian, Muslim or Jewish. Nor is it my intention to take a side in this argument. I have written this post for one reason only, and that is to point out the fact that our information sources are complicit in the spread of ignorance across our lives. They are reinforcing negative ideals. It is because of reporting like this, that more and more people are finding fuel to their bigoted opinions. I am not calling for you to stop watching or reading the news. I am only asking you to think about what you see.