Its been an interesting start to September.
To be honest, if I would have made a bet on what would dominate the headlines, I would have chosen the European Financial Crisis. With the European Parliament coming back from summer break, they have a multitude of problems to face from extremism and riots to keeping the Greeks in the Union. Or maybe I would have guessed the coming of QE3, or basically the Fed buying $40 billion of mortgage backed securities per month.
However, that’s not what is dominating headlines right now.
|Not exactly advocates of freedom of speech.|
Yeah, we’re back in the Middle East, with violence spreading all over the world over a terribly edited movie created that depicts the Prophet Muhammad as some sort of madman. Anti-American protests have spread to Tunisia, Sudan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait – even Australia there was a kid with a sign stating to behead those who insult the Prophet. In Karachi, Pakistani’s are threatening the US Consulate. Ahmad Khatami, a leader in Iran supports the protest stating that the protests teach the West to not confront Islam. An obligatory Al Qaeda release urges Muslims around the world to kill more US diplomats. Paris has also seen riots.
Chris Stevens was the American Ambassador killed by militants in Libya, and it’s important to note that he had a passion for trying to assist the Libyan people. He spoke Arabic, and more importantly had no part in the making of the film that so many extremist Muslims have demanded death sentences as consequence. Actually, it was a 65 year old Alan Roberts who directed the movie that has changed the world, a pornographer and may be in trouble with the law for violating parole.
It’s important to differentiate that there has also been proper responses to the violence. The Islamic Council of Niger has asked Muslims not to persecute Christians because of a film, and has proposed a peaceful dialogue between Christians and other religions. This could be considered a proper response and something the Prophet Muhammad himself would have done, as he signed the Achtiname of Muhammad – or a covenant protecting the Christian monks at a Monastery at Mount Sinai.
|I don't think this guy likes Toyota.|
At the same time as a 14 minute youtube clip angered the entire Islamic world into deathly protests, the Chinese have attacked Japanese products in many cities in China. A factory for Panasonic was set on fire while a Toyota dealership was attacked. The riots began as a response to Japanese/Chinese friction over control of the Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands. Rioters have actually pulled drivers of Toyotas out of their cars and proceeded to destroy the Japanese made car in protest. The Chinese Navy has actually dispatched ships to the Islands to “monitor” the situation.
So why did I just mention what was happening in China?
I believe it provides solid context, and evidence that anyone in this world can act ridiculous. Like the Milgram experiment has shown, and provides some evidence for the agentic state theory. The Muslims around the world who are protesting a movie that frankly no one cares about are acting irresponsibly, violently and the same can be said for the Chinese people who are protesting Japanese interference. The comparison shows anyone, regardless of the reason behind violence or race of the people, can commit violent acts.
|This is the result of this chaos.|
In terms of the Middle Eastern riots, the acts of violence against a movie that most likely few rioters actually viewed are simply an outlet of frustration for much worse problems. Corruption such as the kind that saw almost 300 Pakistani workers locked into a factory that was burnt to the ground, or continual war in Syria backed by outside influence such as Iran (which is highly hypocritical of Iran as they chastise the United States for their foreign interference). Continual interference from the United States and other Western nations into national politics, and economic inequality as the difference between the rich and poor in these countries are far greater than what Western minds could imagine.
Basically, the protests aren’t a reflection of Islam or a movie that mocks it; it’s a reflection of deteriorating geopolitical and economic conditions in the Middle East.
Hundreds of years ago, the West was full of Barbarians. Instead of rich sheikhs with oil revenues, Europe had feudal lords with castles. The Middle East was the definition of high society, education and academic advances exemplified by the fact that University was actually created in the Middle East, and adopted by the Western crusaders. With that rich history, it’s difficult to see the Middle East fall into disarray.
The Middle East has many problems, and one of them is not a 14 minute YouTube video. Hopefully the leaders and people can recognize this, and the needless deaths of diplomats such as Chris Stevens will not occur again.