Billy Hallowell, The Blaze 9/12/12
The tragic events that unfolded on Tuesday in Egypt and Libya perfectly illustrate the ongoing stalemate between the West and much of the Middle East. The stark reaction to an anti-Islam film that was produced and shot in America led to violent protests and the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. Now, conservative Muslims here in America are responding — and very vocally — to the events that unfolded.
TheBlaze spoke with Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, author and president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy and Manda Zand Ervin, president of Alliance of Iranian Women. Both individuals expressed their dismay at the violent actions taken and called upon politicians and Muslims, alike, to step up to prevent such behaviors from unfolding in the future.
Earlier today, TheBlaze also provided in-depth analysis about the film that sparked the Middle Eastern rampages. Despite claims that the movie led to the violence, some officials suspect that the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks was chosen well before the violence unfolded. Regardless, an anti-Muhammad and anti-Islam film called “Innocence of Muslims” — a project that was written and directed by a U.S. real estate developer named Sam Bacile – is being dubbed the catalyst for the attacks.
While Jasser hadn‘t yet watched the film’s 13-minute trailer when we interviewed him, Ervin finished viewing it just moments before we spoke. The Muslim-American admitted that it was certainly poking fun at Islam, but she dismissed it as mere comedy. She told TheBlaze that we live in the 21st century and that people need to realize that, with free speech sometimes comes unpleasant commentary.
“The way I looked at it — it was a comedy. It didn’t make any sense and so what,” she said of the movie in question. “I am a Muslim, but I am also an American and I have come to this country because of freedom of speech, freedom of assembly — all the freedoms that the 21st century is providing. Especially in this country.”
Modernity was a theme throughout her commentary, particularly when it came to the violent Middle Eastern response. Ervin lambasted the actions taken oversees and said that it showcases how the West is “failing to bring the Islamic world into the 21st century by catering to the lowest denomination.”
“I call it ‘cultural imperialism’ — that many, especially the left in this country, are catering to the lowest denomination,” she said, going on to claim that liberals don’t expect Muslims to understand free speech, so they end up protecting extremists and allowing the backwardness to continue.
“I think the attitude needs to be changed,” she added, giving her views on how to fix the situation. “Not catering to the worst, but helping and supporting the best — like us, the ones who are saying, ‘My religion is my religion, but I’m living in the 21st century.’”
Jasser shared similar views, seemingly agreeing with some officials’ statements that these protesters were looking for an opportunity to lash out – and that this film merely gave them an excuse.
“They’re looking for reason to have riots,” he said, also highlighting the fact that Islamists may be teaming up with old forces in the Libyan regime. “There’s a lot of evidence that the Libyan riots were stoked by former Gaddafi loyalists [and that the Egyptian media stoked tensions too]. What Americans need to realize — even though Islamists have been at odds at Gaddafi types and secular fascists — Gaddafi was very closely involved in the Pan Am bombing and other acts of terror.”
Jasser distinguished the violent interpretation of Islam that has become so pervasive with the peaceful one he was brought up with. He told TheBlaze that he was taught about a Muhammad who would never use violence to spread his message. Jasser then called for an era of modernization for Muslims.
“As much as I believe my family and so many who escaped the Middle East — as much as I believe we escaped it — Muslims have not gone through reform and modernization,” he explained. “You’re dealing with a population that has 50 percent illiteracy. They use religion because it’s a very easy visceral tool to use.”
Jasser called the battle one that is for the very soul of Islam. Considering the reaction to the film, sadly, he didn’t seem surprised. “It’s not too hard to make a bunch of Islamists upset and radicalize,” he contended.
The continued theme of pushing the religion into modernity, though, was present throughout his words as well. ”Islam needs to come into modernity,” he told TheBlaze.
“Muslims need to realize that we have a responsibility to not only say that our Islam is peaceful, but to dissect why the Islam of Salifisiam and Wahhabism is wrong…that‘s what’s not happening,” Jasser proclaimed. “So many of the Islam groups in America are in denial and preaching apologetics.”
We‘ll leave you with the full statement that Jasser’s organization put out about the incidentfollowing our interview:
“The American Islamic Forum for Democracy sends its prayers and condolences to the families of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and those who lost their lives in this senseless and brutal attack on the United States. Our prayers are also with their colleagues in the Department of State who by all accounts have lost an ardent defender of freedom and human rights in the Middle East.
The actions of the mob in Libya and the clear interventions of the former regime are nothing short of pure evil and in no way representative of the teachings and practices of the faith of Islam.
At this time of grief it is important that we steel our resolve against this evil. We must not blink in the face of this irrational reaction to the mere words of a little known filmmaker. Apologies from our government to this absurd mob are ridiculous and counterproductive to establishment of true human rights within this region.
It is clear that Islamist leadership in Egypt and the remnants of the fascistic Gaddafi regime in Libya are using this movie as a tool for their own agenda as they have done countless times before.
We need a bold strategy in this region to foster the liberty minded Muslims in these countries to work against these elements of hate and anti-Americanism. We need to help the people of these countries to go through a reformation and step into modernity and away from these irrational actions.
That process begins today by our government stepping away from the typical politically correct language that forgives these attacks and justifies their cause by condemning the free speech of the moviemaker. There is no justification for the actions of this mob. Any act of contrition on our part is essentially an acceptance of the OIC’s “insult to heavenly religions” and an affront to the principles that built the United States.”
CONSTITUTION DAY: On September 17, 1787, thirty-nine brave men signed the United States Constitution. Recent events in the Middle East and beyond continue to remind us how precious our freedoms are, how brave our founding fathers were in their fight to secure them, and how bold and diligent we must be to protect them.
ROSH HASHANAH: The entire team at AIFD wishes our Jewish friends a blessed new year. L’shana tova, and may your year be sweet. We are grateful for your fellowship.
RT, 30 August, 2012
Islamist terrorism and the radicalization of young Muslims has taken center stage in Europe. With schools, universities and even sport clubs becoming hotbeds of Islamism, experts argue that some European countries have willingly allowed it.
Claude Monique, an expert on counterterrorism and extremism and the director of the European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center, told RT that while European intelligence was engaged in battling a bigger threat – communism and the former Soviet Union – it ignored what has become a defining threat of the modern age.
RT: Terrorism in Europe: We’ve seen acts of terror from Breivik in Norway to Mohamed Merah in Toulouse, and we have also seen riots based on ideology. Based on what you’ve seen so far, where is the biggest threat coming from?
Claude Moniquet: I think that we have three different threats today in Europe. The biggest one clearly is still Islamist terrorism. Why it is the biggest? Because we have a large number, thousands of people involved – not in special interest actions but in extremist actions, and are able to become terrorists in the future. We don’t have thousands of such people on the right wing, for instance.
So we have thousands of people who have a very clear political and religious agenda. We have a radicalization process which is ongoing for years now, so I think clearly, Islamist terrorism is the biggest threat in Europe.
After this, we have two different threats. The first one is right-wing terrorism like Breivik, but if we accept the Breivik case, we didn’t have real large-scale act of terrorism from the right wing for 20 years.
And the last threat would be the left-wing terrorism. Which for the moment doesn’t exist in Europe, but it existed 20 years ago – we have clear signs that in Italy, in Greece, we have some anarcho-Marxist groups at work, but very small and on a very low scale
RT: Different though their ideologies may be, these three groups are extremes. You mentioned the radicalization process, and how difficult it is to intercept. Where is the radicalization process actually happening? Are we talking about schools, universities, mosques, prisons? How do we identify it?
CM: Radicalization is going on through different channels. First of all, it is going on in areas, in the cities, in municipalities, in the sports facilities, in the gym clubs, in the football clubs, of course in schools.
So that is the base. After this you have different ways or different places, like prison of course, and universities.
Most of the radicalization is done at a young age and it’s done in the streets, it’s done in the municipalities, in some schools. When people come to university for instance, those who are radicalized are already radicalized, and the others will probably not be radicalized. It’s a minority, we must understand that clearly, radicalization could be a concern of maybe ten to 15 percent of the young Muslims in Europe.
RT: In terms of the demographic grouping, is there a specific group in a society that is more susceptible to such radicalization?
CM: It’s difficult to say, because we would probably think that a poor young boy who feels excluded is more likely to be radicalized, because it’s common sense. But we have also people who have university degrees. We have people who are fully integrated.
If you take for instance the perpetrators of the July 2005 terrorist attack in London, they were fully integrated. One of them was the son of a shop owner, he was working in education, he had a job, he was apparently fully integrated. And he was radicalized.
And if you are in a personal crisis, this crisis being social, being cultural, being familial – a family crisis, a crisis with your girlfriend – you are weak, and you could be radicalized exactly as you could be radicalized in a Christian extremist sect.
RT: Going back to the biggest threat you mentioned – the Islamic extremism here in Europe. The justice minister of Belgium said that she has been told by the state security that Saudi Arabia is funding around 10 schools in Belgium that are teaching radical Islam. How would you assess this threat?
CM: We must understand that in a part of Europe – in Belgium, in the Netherlands, in Germany – we have large Muslim communities today, but [those countries] didn’t have Muslim colonies in the past.
France had Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia. France has colonies, so most of the Muslims in France came from those ex-colonies
Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany did not have those colonies, so the majority of Muslims came in the 60s and the 70s because most of Europe was in need of workforce to build new infrastructure.
Those people came but everybody at the time thought they would just stay for two years, three years, just for work; after, they will return to their countries. Of course, they didn’t.
The Belgians, as the Dutch, didn’t understand the problem very well, and they were looking desperately for someone who could help them
And the Saudis told the Belgian authorities: “No problem, we’ll take care of it,” as they also said to the Netherlands. So they sent money, they sent people, and this was of course a hidden agenda. Their idea was of course to radicalize people.
Islam seems to be a unique thing. It is not a unique thing. You have an Islam of Asia, you have Islam of North Africa, Islam of the Gulf, Sunni, Shiites and so on. And clearly the Wahhabi Islam from Saudi Arabia has nothing to do with the Islam of the Moroccans, of the Turkish.
But this Islam was imposed on those people by the Saudi with the help of the Belgian and Dutch authorities, and this was imposed for 20 years, 25 years. And for 25 years, 30 years, the Saudis were funding, were sending people. For instance, in the Netherlands, in 2003 after the murder of Theo van Gogh, Dutch security monitored all Muslim clerics in the Netherlands and they found that 60 to 70 percent of them were unable to understand, read or speak Dutch.
So very clearly they cannot be a factor of integration. They cannot. They cannot understand the society in which they live, in which their followers live. They cannot help them with good advice, because they don’t know. And most of them were coming from outside, from Saudi Arabia or Gulf States, with no knowledge of the language, no knowledge of the society.
RT: You were in the French intelligence service. Did you or those in the authorities not see that was coming, the signs coming from the Saudi Arabia at the time?
CM: At the time – this was true for the French intelligence, for the US, for all the Western intelligence – we were not very interested in those cases. The big enemy was the Soviet Union and communism. So, we had no real interest in monitoring Saudi Arabia. It was something going on, but invisible.
RT: Well, you have, for example, the State Security in Belgium warning against the threat that Saudi Arabia poses in terms of imposing extreme ideology on people in Europe. But on the other hand, Saudi Arabia is painted as an ally of the West. How do you reconcile this?
CM: The ambiguity of the situation is that the Saudi Arabia is clearly an ally of the West because it was against communism, it was against the former Soviet Union and so on, against Iran today for obvious reasons. So it is an ally, and at the same time, it could be considered an enemy because they have this hidden agenda.
But even inside Saudi society at the highest level, you have two tendencies. In the royal family in Saudi Arabia, you have people who are genuine and honest advocates of working with the West and modernizing Saudi Arabia, and we have other princes saying ‘No!,’ we must keep, stand firmly in our beliefs, and we are still the Saudi and Wahhabi.
RT: Looking at what some governments in Europe are doing, for example imposing a ban on the burqa, or minarets or other such laws, do you think they actually work? Or do they just create a backlash from the general Muslim community, who are not extremists?
CM: Both, I think both. First of all, I think we must help and support the average Muslim guy or woman who is just trying to live a normal life and who wants to have a better future for his or her children. And clearly those people are demanding that we take a firm position against the extremists.
They are worried for their children. When you are a Muslim parent in Belgium or France, and you see Muhammed Merah and you see that a young boy of 21, 22 had bad connections, went to an extremist mosque, or wanted to go to Pakistan, I suppose you’re afraid and you want the help of the state. And the help of the state is to set some limits.
At the same time, very clearly, it is a way of radicalization for some people. But these people would be radicalized anyway. It’s just an occasion, it’s just a pretext, but if it is not the burqa, it will be the obligation of Halal food in the school; if it is not this, it will be the mixing of boys and girls in school, or another subject. But a part of this community is moving to radicalization, the ten to 15 percent. The question is how to protect the rest, and of course how to contain the extremists.
- TheBlaze consults experts to glean insight into why Islamists and even a contingent of secular Muslims across the Middle East harbor such animus for America
- The reasons cited include: Anti-Semitism, U.S. drone attacks, slandering Islam, different views on personal freedom, a belief that America sides with dictators (i.e. late Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak), the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a belief that America is raping the Middle East of its natural resources and is trying to take over the region.
With the turmoil in the Middle East reaching a fever pitch, everyday people in the U.S. have, at one point or another, likely found themselves wondering: “Why? What do Muslims abroad really have against us? Why do they hate us?”
There could hardly be a one-size fits all answer to a question (and topic) so deeply textured, but for the sake of this exercise TheBlaze has attempted to delve into what Muslims abroad claim are their key grievances against America.
Interestingly, both Islamists and secular “men on the street” in Islamic countries harbor varying degrees of resentment for America and the West, each for their own distinct reasons. Below is an examination of the most prevalent issues concerning Muslims abroad.
Power plays and Arab nationalism
For Daniel Pipes, scholar and founder of the Middle East Forum (MEF), it boils down to one simple reason: Islamists hate America because “they believe Muslims should be in charge” and they, simply, “are not.”
The resentment, according to scholar, while most “acute” for fundamentalists is actually widespread even among Arab seculars.
Another motivation cited by experts is anti-Semitism. Take, for instance, the Palestinians. Both Hamas and Fatah have routinely waged terrorist acts but have not done so for the purpose of religious extremism. Rather, their animus is intended to justify their Arab nationalism and prop-up various acts of aggression against the Jewish State – land they seek to claim as their own.
Islamists outside the Palestinian territories will often join the anti-Israel bandwagon for purposes of Islamic solidarity and Arab unity. Again, leaders of Fatah and Hamas, while also vying for power within their own ranks, still present a unified front to the world when it comes to blaming the West and Israel for all their woes.
Raymond Ibrahim, a fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center agrees.
“Even secularists there [across the Middle East] will be anti-Israel.”
He explained that a lifetime absorbing anti-Semitic, anti-Western propaganda has shaped an entire culture’s world view.
“You can’t be born and raised in the Middle East and not be anti-Israeli,” the historian told TheBlaze in an exclusive interview.
“There no sense of responsibility. You can even talk to the most secular, intelligent, suit-and-tie guy and that is still his mentality.”
He added that Arab nationalism has “quickly morphed into an Islamist thing.”
“It’s the same hatred.”
“When something goes wrong it’s always – even when it comes to a secular Arab mentality – an Israel-U.S. ‘conspiracy.’”
Ibrahim, a Coptic Christian whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from Egypt, also explained that while not every secular Muslim in the Middle East will rise up in violence, they consider themselves above all to be Arab nationalists, thus will collectively turn a blind eye to the carnage being leveled by their more radical counterparts.
A series of U.S. “blunders?”
Salam al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), spoke to TheBlaze about Muslim perceptions of the West. He claims that a strong contingent of Muslims harbor a belief that U.S. policy is definitively “anti-Islam” and that Americans are protective of Christian and Jewish communities exclusively while remaining silent in the face Islamophobia.
Al-Marayati — perhaps best known for equating jihad with Patrick Henry’s stance on “give me liberty or give me death” — explained that Muslim views are shaped around what they consider a series of U.S. foreign policy “blunders,” including a belief that:
- The U.S. consistently supports Middle East dictators
- The U.S. “sanctions” anti-Islam propaganda
- Has controlled the natural and industrial resources of Muslim countries
- “Blindly” supports Israel against the Palestinians
- Kills Muslim civillians indiscriminately in drone attacks
- “Destroyed Iraq” in both 1991 and 2003
- Maintains a military presence throughout the Middle East
Raymond Imbrahim, a Coptic Christian best known for his translations of jihadist propaganda material in his book, The Al Qaeda Reader, also pointed to several factors that sway anti-American sentiment among Muslims, among them is a belief that:
- The West hates and is hostile towards Muslims
- The West wants to take over Middle East
- The West is stealing Islamic countries’ oil
Whether their beliefs are founded or not is irrelevant, as they are perpetuated by Muslims local and national governments and across state-run media.
A bad PR campaign?
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), believes Arab-Muslim perceptions of America and the West are a direct result of how America is packaged in their media. He said that Muslims across the Middle East ironically still desire living in the U.S. and enjoy certain elements of Western culture but “hate American policies as they have been portrayed in the media.”
For the former U.S. Naval officer, it is “all about perceptions.“ He believes America needs to do more ”to promote ourselves and values in the Middle East” and refrain from appointing statesmen who he considers a “failure at…advancing a freedom agenda.”
“For a country that spends billions on campaigns inside the country, we’ve done virtually nothing to promote ourselves in the Middle East,” Jasser told TheBlaze pointedly. Otherwise, “we have been played for a fool by the Islamists” and their well-engineered, “Soviet-style” propaganda campaigns.
A “blame America” attitude, even for internal poverty
It is perhaps prudent to note that governments of Muslim countries are no stranger to corruption, relegating their citizenry to live in a perpetual state of poverty, illiteracy and unemployment. For instance, reports indicate that the illiteracy rate in the Arab world hovers at around 35.6 percent compared with a global rate of 18 percent. Likewise, the youth unemployment rate across the Middle East is 25 percent, exceeding that “of any other region in the world,” the International Monetary Fund said in its April 2011 regional outlook for the Middle East and Central Asia. J
When the people’s discontent boils over, rather than assume responsibility, political and religious leaders across the Middle East attempt to deflect blame, thereby pointing a finger at the West. to claim that America is the genesis for all of their country’s societal ills.
Experts consulted by TheBlaze for this article claim Islamic operatives will cite any number of “reasons” to blame the West for their countries’ stagnant economies and poor living conditions, including telling the public that America has even “stolen its oil and other natural resources.”
“If you are leading a movement anathema to Western ideas and to freedom and liberty,” Jasser said, leaders in the region “must develop grievances against a common ‘enemy’ to deflect attention away from themselves.”
He said the practice engaged by Islamic leaders in countries currently experiencing upheaval is by all means “Machiavellian,” adding that the best way to prevent proponents of human rights (i.e. the U.S.) from having a voice is by discrediting them.
“They shifted the discussion from ideology to grievances,” Jasser said.
Foreign and domestic policy
According to Pipes, of the many grievances aired by Islamists, insults to their Prophet Muhammad ranks at the top of all that is verboten, followed by “Western sexual freedom” and other liberated social practices concerning faith, speech, dress, personal relationships and so on.
Pipe’s assertion echoes statements made by one of North America’s most influential clerics, Imam Mohammad Qatanani, during an interview with TheBlaze. The prominent Islamic scholar confirmed that slandering the “final” prophet will in no uncertain terms, “ever be accepted” by Muslims.
The cleric’s strong words on slander do not only apply to Islamists. Islamism, for instance, may be much more prevalent in countries like Pakistan than it is (ironically) in Iran, but mocking the Prophet Muhammad appears to be universally taboo across the Islamic world, whatever the level of a religious observance.
U.S. answerable for all Western nations?
While both cultural and religious differences have fomented hatred for the U.S. among Muslims across the Middle East, so too has American foreign policy. Pipes, author of an array of books on Islam, dates the “tipping point” for U.S. policy to 1989 and the Ayatollah Khomeini’s edict against “The Satanic Verses” author Salman Rushdie.
The novel was said to have been inspired in part by the Prophet Muhammad and the title drew from a phenomenon in Islam dubbed the “satanic verses,” an alleged compilation of Quranic verses allowing prayers to be offered to three pagan goddesses. Polytheism is expressly forbidden in Islam, thus Islamists considered Rushdhie’s work blasphemous.
Iran’s Supreme Leader issued a fatwa — an Islamic mandate calling for a specific person to be killed — on the Indian novelist. Ironically, the argument used by Islamic clerics at the time claimed that Rushdie misused his “freedom of speech.” The author has lived under threat of death ever since and TheBlaze reported that the bounty on his head has recently been increased to $3.3 million.
“Had the West been firmer in that and the many succeeding examples,” he began, “I believe Muslims would see that they cannot intimidate us and the furor would calm down.”
How America is responsible for an Indian author who was not even in the U.S. at the time of the Satanic Verses’ release remains unclear. Still, when it comes to “blaspheming” against Islam, it seems the deeds of the entire Western world fall under America’s purview in the eyes of Islamists.
To befriend or not to befriend (despots, that is)
Another reason a contingent of Muslims resent America, according to experts consulted by TheBlaze, is that the U.S. has “hugged…kissed and befriended” many of the world’s “worst oppressors.” While not a consensus opinion, Jasser, considered a voice of Muslim moderation, believes that referring to Hosni Mubarak as a “close friend and ally” does naught to endear Americans to Muslims abroad.
He said America can no longer operate with a mindset of choosing the “lesser of two evils” when it comes to leaders in the Middle East.
“It can’t be a linear choice between the Shah and the Ayatollah,” he said.
In terms of where America has botched its foreign policy in the Middle East, Ibrahim countered Jasser’s point, immediately condemning President Obama for throwing our “staunch ally” Mubarak under the bus. Unlike Jasser, Ibrahim believes Mubarak was an important counter-balance to Islamists in the region and explained that one of the reasons the late Egyptian president was so loathed at home was specifically because of his close ties with the U.S.
“We empowered Islamists,” Ibrahim declared. ”Same thing with Libya. Gahdafi was terrible but what’s the alternative? The same people are now attacking Americans. It is ironic to me that Libya and Egypt are the ones retaliating in such a vicious way.”
Ibrahim also noted that if America were to step in and aid any Middle East uprising, it should have been Iran’s Green Revolution as it comprises mainly pro-Western students and other seculars seeking to free themselves from the grip of their hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
“We could have publicized it [Green Revolution] in the way that our media publicized the Arab Spring. I don’t remember media being fixated on the Iranians. Obama was silent. It’s so amazing, the question is ‘why?’: Why did we help the Brotherhood and not the seculars?”
He answered his own question: “Because the Islamists have infiltrated American government.”
While condemning the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is now being engaged at the White House, Ibrahim believes there is still a window of opportunity for the U.S. to side with the secularists and other pro-West groups.
TheBlaze also spoke with Larry Greenfield, a Los Angeles-based senior fellow at the American Freedom Alliance, who shared his thoughts on America’s current foreign policy as it relates to Islamic countries and what the U.S. should be doing differently.
“The left has adopted an approach of appeasement,” Greenfield, a former Naval Intelligence officer, told TheBlaze.
“Obama’s policies toward radical Islam have been to deny its existence, fail to name it or fight it effectively.”
Greenfield intensified his onslaught, criticizing “Obama the weak” for failing to condemn the murderer of Neda Agha-Soltan — a young Iranian woman who was shot to death during a dissident protest in Iran, and for his failure to respond to the protesters’ plea: “Obama, Obama, are you with us or our tyrants?”
“Obama’s entire foreign policy of sorrow for American strength and historical global leadership for freedom has invited danger. He has dithered in Afghanistan , bowed to the Saudis and betrayed allies like Britain, Hondurus, the Czechs, Poland, and Israel and emboldens bad actors.”
In closing, Greenfield asked if the president would like to return the Nobel Peace Prize bestowed upon him “now that it is evident his strategy of appeasement has collapsed.”
The idea Greenfield put forth is that by kowtowing to those who live outside the U.S., yet who demand Americans live in accordance with their Islamic ideology — even if that ideology is anathema to American values, laws and beliefs — extremists will only become more emboldened. Thus, a foreign policy that takes a more authoritative stance when dealing with extremists who shed American blood in the name of Islam might better serve U.S. interests.
Can America do anything right?
At the end of the day, Muslims are not a monolith. Their views vary from country to country, sect to sect, culture to culture. But history would seem to indicate that, at least where Islamists are concerned, if they are not upset about one set of American, or further, Western “transgressions” they will in short order be upset about another.
Whether it is demanding the release of the “Blind Sheik,“ or insisting that the Pope apologize for 2006 comments in which he criticized past Islamic ”tyranny;” a Danish cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad, or America’s support for Israel, there may very well continue to be a thorn in Islamists’ side no matter how often America apologizes for itself or the entire Western world.
Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayyeb has demanded a UN resolution criminalizing blasphemy against Islam and other world religions, as well as demanding that those he described as “misled” be punished for committing “these heinous acts of abuse to the Prophet.”
In a statement released Saturday, Tayyeb called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to criminalize the defamation of religion, saying that such actions and words threaten world peace and international security.
“Is not that irresponsible tampering, Mr. Secretary General, similar to the issue of [anti-Semitic] prejudice, which you condemn all the time, and [against] which verdicts were issued against alleged perpetrators in many countries of the world, even if they are great thinkers and scientists?”
Tayyeb asked in the statement. Tayyeb also called on all Egyptians to keep calm and condemned attacks on innocent people and expressed sympathy for victims of the recent violence. He also stressed the need to protect diplomatic missions and the headquarters of international organizations. Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm
KIMBERLY DVORAK, Examiner.com. SEPTEMBER 12, 2012
Yesterday Americans peacefully remembered 9/11 with prayers and ceremonies. However, halfway around the world the U.S. Embassy in Egypt and U.S. Consulate in Libya were targeted by hundreds of Islamic radicals that resulted in the murder of U.S. Ambassador for Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, a Foreign Service Information Officer Sean Smith and two other U.S. embassy staffers.
Gruesome photos of Ambassador Steven’s lifeless body being dragged through the streets in Benghazi lit up the Internet, and caused seven other Middle Eastern embassies to heighten security.
The attack yesterday in Libya highlights terrorists continued hatred toward America and the fact the murders occurred on 9/11 demonstrates U.S. policy may not be working as planned. Last year Nobel Peace Prize winner,President Obama, declared war on the Libyan dictator and after a bloody eight-month engagement, the rebels, with the help of U.S. air and ground forces, captured and then murdered their brutal dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
The New York Times reports, “The protesters in Cairo appeared to be a genuinely spontaneous unarmed mob angered by an anti-Islam video produced in the United States. By contrast, it appeared the attackers in Benghazi (Libya) were armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Intelligence reports are inconclusive at this point, officials said, but indications suggest the possibility that an organized group had either been waiting for an opportunity to exploit like the protests over the video or perhaps even generated the protests as a cover for their attack.”
The mass protests in Cairo also stemmed from a Jewish Israeli-American filmmaker, Sam Bacile (a pseudonym), who produced a movie entitled “Innocence of Muslims,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Apparently the movie depicted a derogatory view of the prophet Muhammad, something Muslim extremists find offensive.
Regardless of the rational used by Islamic extremists the breeching of the U.S. Consulate in Cairo and Libya underscores the lingering hatred for America. It’s worth pointing out that America has spent trillions of dollars in perpetual Middle East Wars, billions in foreign aid and supported unsavory rebels to topple ruthless dictators.
The politically correct statement released by the Cairo embassy did nothing to curtail or pacify the terrorists who later brutally attacked the Libyan embassy and killed four American citizens.
“Obama’s first reaction was to apologize,” said Lt. Col. Army (ret) Ralph Peters. “The Egyptian government knew it was happening. Egypt is getting billions of U.S. aid and they refused to protect the U.S. embassy.”
It was the U.S. embassy apology statement controversy and subsequent murders that dominated news outlet coverage. Ironically, the State Department’s announcement contended the clear acts of terrorism were predicated on the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment freedom of speech.
While many pundits concluded that these attacks were an act of war, Peters disagreed and said they were a war-like act. “We are supposed to defend our Constitution not elevate political correctness. Our military takes an oath to uphold and protect our Constitution.”
Currently the elite Marine group, Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team, (FAST) which responds to these types of terror-related emergencies, was on route to provide security for the U.S. embassy in Libya.
President Obama’s response
This morning President Obama began backtracking of the politically correct statement his Cairo staff released yesterday. In a Rose Garden press conference, the President insisted those responsible would be held accountable.
“I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens. Right now, the American people have the families of those we lost in our thoughts and prayers. They exemplified America’s commitment to freedom, justice, and partnership with nations and people around the globe, and stand in stark contrast to those who callously took their lives.
I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe. While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.
On a personal note, Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya’s transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice. I am profoundly grateful for his service to my Administration, and deeply saddened by this loss.
The brave Americans we lost represent the extraordinary service and sacrifices that our civilians make every day around the globe. As we stand united with their families, let us now redouble our own efforts to carry their work forward,” the President concluded.
A Muslim response
The American Islamic Forum for Democracy responded quickly to the attacks on U.S. embassies.
“The actions of the mob in Libya and the clear interventions of the former regime are nothing short of pure evil and in no way representative of the teachings and practices of the faith of Islam,” Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a devout Muslim and author of A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith.” We must not blink in the face of this irrational reaction to the mere words of a little known filmmaker.”
Dr. Jasser said that the U.S. embassy in Egypt’s first politically correct apology statement regarding the Islamic extremist attacks was counterproductive and only justified their cause by condemning the free speech of a Jewish moviemaker. This type of terrorist tactic is nothing new. In fact, just like the mistaken Koran burning in Afghanistan, this method is a reliable propaganda tool used by Middle East terrorists.
“We need a bold strategy in this region to foster the liberty minded Muslims in these countries to work against these elements of hate and anti-Americanism. We need to help the people of these countries to go through a reformation and step into modernity and away from these irrational actions,” Jasser finished.
Unfortunately, as American’s wake up on this September 12, the country remains at war. The 11-year battle isn’t about freedom or democracy, but radical Muslim ideology.
It’s up to Islamic protestors to determine the heart and souls of their respective countries. America may choose to play a quiet role behind the scenes, but ultimately the citizens of Middle Eastern nations must take the lead, define their governance doctrines and rebuild their nations.
With the Arab Spring quickly turning into the Arab Winter, does America’s expensive foreign policy justify the end results?
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