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“This attitude is not part of Islam….just like the movie should not represent Christianity”

An actor portrays Muhammad in the trailer for the film “Innocence of Muslims” on www.youtube.com.

BAHRAIN — After releasing the movie “Innocence of Muslims” various reactions were observed around both the Arabic and Islamic world. The movie, which insulted the dignity of more than one billion Muslims by offending their prophet, has created a critical situation.

Many of our religious leaders have criticized the attacks on the American embassies and the unfortunate killings. They say this attitude is not part of Islam, and just like the movie should not represent Christianity, this attack should not represent Islam.

Many leaders worry that this situation will develop and become worse. They believe that some fanatical groups who don’t belong to Islam may cause more destruction and create more chaos.

Muslims, however, are inflamed with rage that such a thing has spread without being truly condemned by the U.S. government. According to the Huffington Post, “U.S. officials describe the video as offensive, but the American government's protection of free speech rights has clashed with the anger of Muslims abroad who are furious over the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, womanizer and pedophile.”

Arab Muslims believe that the United States should punish those who have produced this film in order to put an end to the humiliation that the Muslims have received.

Many religious leaders in the Islamic world say that the purpose of that movie was to create hatred between the Christian and Muslim nations. But both nations are civilized enough to stop a sectarian war from occurring.

Muslims now are protesting peacefully in different countries to show their anger. They believe the U.S. should issue an international law, which protects Islam. Ideally, such a law would criminalize anyone who insults or harnesses any of the Islamic figures, just the like the Global Anti-Semitism law (signed by President Bush in 2004), which requires the state department to monitor global anti-Semitism and rate countries annually on their treatment of Jews.

Zainab Abdualjaleel a junior English language student at the University of Bahrain. She studied at the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication in Pullman this summer through a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

About Tracy Simmons

Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Scholarly Assistant Professor at Washington State University.

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23 comments

  1. Thanks for putting yourself out there on such a controversial topic, Zainab! I have a few questions about this. Namely, why do Muslims seem to feel humiliation so intensely? In America, we have caricatures of Jesus produced all the time, and there are never riots. Many Christians find it within themselves to laugh and appreciate the humor in the portrayals sometimes.

    I’m also curious about why the protests seem centered in North Africa. I am pretty sure that most of the Muslim world is actually in Asia. Do you know if there are similar feelings among Muslims in other regions, and if not, what is different about them that they are not protesting? Thanks!

  2. Why should the U.S. punish people for exercising their freedom of speech? It seems to me that Muslims need to learn how to ignore offensive people just like everyone else does. No law should protect Islam from ridicule. That is preposterous. Is Islam so weak and sensitive that it needs laws ensuring that people won’t say critical things? No other religion enjoys such a privilege, so why should Islam? People should be free to insult, ridicule, pillory, make fun of, critique, argue against, etc. ANY belief they want, including Islam.

    Islam will have to earn respect like every other religion and idea, by convincing people with *reason* that it deserves to be considered. NO law, however, should be enforced that favors Islam.

  3. Zainab Abdualjaleel

    Thanks Sam Fletcher for reading and responding. The Answer for your first question is that thaes ceaetian things in Islam are very sacred. That is ” the prophet, Quean, Makkah”. Insalting any of these things that consider a priortey to every Muslim around the world. This movie touched our first model in life and by that we feel that this movie was targeted to step over our dignity and to mock our religious belief. I believe that the person who made the movie knows excatly this truth – the fact that we don’t approve on these things- nevertheless he’s done it and has disresoect one major base. I think in this context christainty is different than Islam. Islam deprives that because it’s sacred as I said and sacred things should never represented in a bad or funny way.

    As for your second question, the whole Arabic and Islamic has protested against this thing. Bahrain for instanse has as well. Many other countries around the middle eastern countries has as well but international media has ignored it and consenteate its attention only on Africa. Maybe because more violent things happened there? I myself wonder why they don’t report that. Media always show half of the truth. I hope one day that the media delivere the whole image.

  4. Zainab Abdualjaleel

    Thank you Rayan Downie for your comment. I would say that Islam is different. If other religions have no problem in being offneded that’s ok. but islam has a problem with that and people should respect this fact. Religions are very sensitive topics, and no one should say that is religion should accept this and that because my religion do or it feels common sense to do so. I might disagree with other religion beliefs. but i don’t go and suggest for them to accept things that they won’t approve on.
    God has created diffrent nation, and each nation has its own belife and thoughts. we don’t accept these belifes to be the same, and we don’t accept either that they will change them just because we feel it’s the right way for them. the only solution is accepting and respecting what they belive in.

    you might think why you should ? well it’s the only we to preserve peace in our world. these things create huge problems. Just like the case in Libya. isn’t that a good reason?

    you say that Islam should earn respect. why do you think it hasn’t? Islam is not week or sensitve because it defends its sacred figures. in the matter of fact it’s very strong because it do so.

    if someone very special to your heart. let say a family member or a friend has been insulted. what your reaction would be like? dose defending them means that they are week? or you are just seeking to save your dignity.

    Also you say that no religion is privilged with such a law. I recommed you to check theGlobal Anti-Semitism law which protects jewish from any harm. why shouldn’t Islam has one just like one?

  5. Zainab,

    Really appreciate your response. I actually submitted a blog to Tracy with some of my further thoughts. I hope that appears on this website soon. I agree with much of what you’ve said, though, and appreciate the dialog!

  6. Zainab –

    Why is Islam different? Other religions don’t like being offended either. No one likes being offended, but there is a right way and a wrong way to respond to being offended. The clearly wrong way is to go rioting and killing. It shows a lack of maturity, dignity, and confidence, not to mention morality. Islam should not be respected for responding this way. Beliefs don’t automatically warrant respect just because they are believed. Also, the fact that something is believed by one individual should never force someone else to respect that belief. You are on a very slippery slope! We might as well make laws that punish people for offending anyone about anything. But what a crappy world that would be.

    If Muslims believe their beliefs to be true and someone mocks them, why would they take that person seriously anyway? You don’t have to accept what they say. But you also don’t need to freak out because of it. Besides, why should anyone respect a religion that demands it and even wants law to enforce it? I certainly cannot respect such a belief system.

    You said: “you might think why you should ? well it’s the only we to preserve peace in our world. these things create huge problems. Just like the case in Libya. isn’t that a good reason? ”

    That isn’t peace! That is being held hostage by threats. It is basically saying, “If you don’t respect us, we’ll hurt you. So respect us, and there will be peace”. What a terrible form of peace. No, what happened in Libya is even more reason to criticize Islam and what it produces. Peace is a two-way street. It is not walking on egg-shells, always worrying that you might offend someone because they will go crazy.

    You said: “you say that Islam should earn respect. why do you think it hasn’t? Islam is not week or sensitve because it defends its sacred figures. in the matter of fact it’s very strong because it do so.”

    I think Islam has not earned respect (a) because there are no good reasons to believe it to be true, (b) it seems to produce some of the worst violence, oppression, hostility, and hatred, (c) it demands respect.

    Note, there is nothing wrong with defending your sacred figures, but, again, there is a proper way to go about doing this. What I see in Libya and other Muslim countries is not a defense of Islam, but a psychotic over-reaction. It makes Islam look very bad.

    You said: “if someone very special to your heart. let say a family member or a friend has been insulted. what your reaction would be like? dose defending them means that they are week? or you are just seeking to save your dignity.”

    My reaction would depend. I certainly wouldn’t go crazy and kill the person or even beat the crap out of them. There is no reason to. In fact, I may not respond to him/her because I know he/she is wrong and that his/her words are worthless. Sometimes responding to such an individual is counterproductive because it gives the person power over me. Muslims should learn this lesson. To respond with such violence is to give the mockers tremendous power.

    Finally, you said: “Also you say that no religion is privilged with such a law. I recommed you to check theGlobal Anti-Semitism law which protects jewish from any harm. why shouldn’t Islam has one just like one?”

    There is no law, even for Jews, that says someone cannot mock their beliefs, at least, not in America. People are perfectly free here to mock Judaism and the Jews without being punished.

  7. “That isn’t peace! That is being held hostage by threats. It is basically saying, “If you don’t respect us, we’ll hurt you. So respect us, and there will be peace”. What a terrible form of peace.”

    Actually she said the opposite. From the article:

    “Many of our religious leaders have criticized the attacks on the American embassies and the unfortunate killings. They say this attitude is not part of Islam, and just like the movie should not represent Christianity, this attack should not represent Islam.”

  8. Sam –

    And yet, she also said:

    “you might think why you should ? well it’s the only we to preserve peace in our world. these things create huge problems. Just like the case in Libya. isn’t that a good reason? “

  9. Ryan, your reading comprehension leaves much to be desired. What else can I say but that? You seem intent on reading into it what you most desire to see.

  10. Sam, an insult is not a response. Zainab specifically said that what Muslims want is a law protecting Islam from any form of ridicule. She seems to endorse such a law. Why? Because it would preserve “peace”. And how would it do so? Because it would prevent Muslims from being offended and thereby prevent the radical ones from going nuts. How would you read her words that I quoted?

  11. “What else can I say but that?”

    You could say something useful for starters.

  12. I think a law to protect…is just a means to punish, in Sharia based courts. You start giving in to such paths and pandora is opened.

    I’m not sure why Ryan’s point seems to be ignored, it’s clear, sane and fair for all.

    I too feel like pandering goes on due to fear or some desire to be perceived as ‘not one of them’ but we are them. “Americans are gong to pay”, means: the bomb or the plane may hit your kids school or your building.There is no favortism in terrorism and we are at war, I know that’s something most Americans, other than military families fail to remember, even during an election but it is true.

    Some Muslim people and some Muslim leaders sponsor terrorists to kill Americans and our allies. There is no debating this issue. The pictures in the paper, the riots on the news, these witness to a reality we have to face and pretending it isn’t real is a massive disgrace to the sacrifice and suffering of our own country men and women who have died or are still fighting.

    Any religion that inspires or teaches its people to be stronger through fighting others, or that seeks to kill opponents or people who convert in the modern world…should be seriously faced with truth and reason.

    We are not dealing with individuals to individuals like in criminal cases, we are dealing with whole systems of thought and faith. It’s why this ‘war’ can’t be bombed into an ending….you cannot bomb ideology.

    If Islam perceives tolerance as weakness and blasphemy…how do you maintain peace in a democratic country?

    If I move to Tehran, I would better understand ‘the way of the people amd the law of the land’ or I would face serious trouble. My goal wouldn’t be to changed their law, culture and faith. To try to do that across oceans now, seems even more crazy. Why are we fighting over what someone does online??? Really? If that’s the reason we should now go to war, we should bomb a whole lot of places where child porn is legal, hard core drug use is allowed, child labor is forced, injustice is institutional, on and on. That logic is dangerous in my opinion and incomparable with the modern world.

    Christians have had to face this reality with thier own scriptures. Old laws no longer govern today. This principle is applied in most all modern handling of the Bible’s Old Testament.

    Modern followers of the Bible do not kill gays, our children, adhere to ancient agricultural laws, deal with disease or menstration or foods according to a desert tribal people’s thinking of God and community.

    We are able to see the spirit of the law now without translating that into observance of various ritual based religious law. This doesn’t invalidate the faith of those ancient people but handles it with enlightenment, reason and modern faith and understanding.

  13. Zainab Abdualjaleel

    Rayan .. I don’t think you have read my article and i don’t think you understsnd what i say.

    I think the problem is you still compare Islam with other religions. I told you. What you believe in dosen’t mean that we have too.

    P.S
    You say that in America everyone is free to do and say whatever they want and no one has the right to stop them. Isn’t the way you are trying to tell me to accept the insult of the prophet is a way of oppressing my belief? It seems to me you are enchaining my free well. If you think you have the freedom to do whatever you want. I think i should have the same freedom to object and to request anything that will save my dignity.

    I think you won’t understand this unless you understand what Islam is.

  14. Zainab –

    Why shouldn’t Islam be compared to other religions? Simply because you happen to believe it?

    Of course you don’t have to believe what I believe. That is the nature of freedom. Symmetrically, I don’t have to believe what you believe and I certainly don’t believe there should be a law protecting your faith from scrutiny (or any faith for that matter).

    I never said people have the right to do *whatever* they want. But no, I am not oppressing your belief because I am not preventing you from believing it. Nor am I asking you to accept an insult. I’m suggesting you ignore it and move on or use your own freedom of speech to argue for why people should avoid being purposefully insulting of their own free-will. Another option would be to use your free speech to argue for why the alleged insult is mistaken. Denying you a law that protects your faith is not oppression your belief. It is you, rather, who is seeking to oppress the beliefs of others.

    You said I won’t understand unless I understand what Islam is… So, tell me, what is Islam?

  15. gr8 job Zainab ,

    I agree with u in every single point that you mentioned in your article

    I think even if there is a right of freedom of speech there is ethics which should commitment by any employee ,
    as the movie has produced it seems that the director didn’t committed the ethics so he should be punished

  16. Mami –

    It may have been unethical for that man to make this movie, but why does that mean he should be punished by the law?

  17. I agree with Zainab. I think it’s important not to look at the world as “me” and “everyone else” but look at yourself as one expression of an idea among many varied and different expressions of ideas. I think that’s the argument here. I think Ryan and Eric are trying to make Islam conform to a Western idea, and Zainab is asserting that Muslims should not have to do that. I think social issues of violence and other issues are secondary because what we’re talking about really gets to issues of agency on the global scale. The West has been very guilty of exporting colonialism through cultural assumptions, and I think that’s made for some very agitated and disgruntled people. The way of the West is not the only valid answer to the great questions of life.

  18. Well today we are learning that this was a planned terror plot, pictures of our ambassadors butchering have surfaced and now the whole “it’s the movie” angle is being told is a cover for the terrorist actions.

    Of course the administration and the Libyan gov are not on the same page as to the details, the L gov has been saying it was a planned plot, our gov has been saying its a movie angst.

    What a mess and a sick tragedy. I’m done with debating points of blame. Americans are dead and thier murder is available to view online, terrorists are alive and well and our government keeps sending the drones. International policy, islamic support or not, the whole thing sickens me and in the end…the majority of Americans keep voting these warmongers into power. So whose to blame?

  19. Zainab,
    have you read the “GLOBAL ANTI-SEMITISM REVIEW ACT OF 2004”,
    the law you posted a link to?
    I yes, could you please tell us where does it “criminalize anyone who insults or harnesses” or says something about Jews or Judaism?
    thanks,
    Yuri

  20. Yuri,

    The Global Antisemitism Act of 2004 states:

    Not later than November 15, 2004, the Secretary of State shall
    submit to the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate and the
    Committee on International Relations of the House of Representatives a
    one-time report on acts of anti-Semitism around the world, including a
    description of–
    (1) acts of physical violence against, or harassment
    of, Jewish people, and acts of violence against, or vandalism
    of, Jewish community institutions, such as schools, synagogues,
    or cemeteries, that occurred in each country;
    (2) the responses of the governments of those countries to
    such actions
    (3) the actions taken by such governments to enact and
    enforce laws relating to the protection of the right to
    religious freedom of Jewish people;
    (4) the efforts by such governments to promote anti-bias and
    tolerance education; and
    (5) instances of propaganda in government and nongovernment
    media that attempt to justify or promote racial hatred or incite
    acts of violence against Jewish people.

    And later says:

    wherever applicable, an assessment and
    description of the nature and extent of acts of
    anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic incitement that
    occur in that country during the preceding year,
    including–
    “(I) acts of physical violence
    against, or harassment of, Jewish
    people, acts of violence against, or
    vandalism of, Jewish community
    institutions, and instances of
    propaganda in government and
    nongovernment media that incite such
    acts; and
    “(II) the actions taken by the
    government of that country to respond to
    such violence and attacks or to
    eliminate such propaganda or incitement,
    to enact and enforce laws relating to
    the protection of the right to religious
    freedom of Jewish people, and to promote anti-bias
    and tolerance education.”

    I don’t know what the ‘punishment’ is, but it’s definitely being monitored.

  21. Lou,
    thanks, I’ve read it, and I am still not sure Zainab did,
    you don’t know what the ‘punishment’ is (and I agree about parenthesis)
    because there is no punishment, or at least nothing criminal against any individual or country
    while what she want is to “criminalize anyone who insults or harnesses any of the Islamic figures”, and thinks that it is “just the same”

    or she also wrote that “Global Anti-Semitism law which protects jewish from any harm. why shouldn’t Islam has one just like one?”

    well, this law DOES NOT protect any Jew from anything,
    so I would not mind to talk about Islam – it DOES NOT protect anybody, or any religion, whether Jewish or Muslim

    Anybody can say any insult about anything Jewish (God, prophets, kings, or religious figures), and they won’t get punished and there would be no mass violent protests either here in the US or in Israel, and there will be no damaged consulates
    so yes, I agree, it should be the same with Islam,
    now, is this the case?

  22. Rayan,
    he should be punished becouse he cause harm to people (who were work with him, like the actress ),
    not only the muslim were harmed even people who worked with him and others like the pple who work in american embassies

  23. @Sam Fletcher;

    I am a Muslim and do not Agree with Zaynab. Muslims nowadays do not adhere and totally know the practices of prophet Mohammad (PBUH) regarding tolerance matters. The prophet was insulted many times and cursed many times by the Meccan’s, and he never retaliated or instructed his followers to avenge him, In matter of fact his followers many times wanted to do something about it and he was the one to stop them.

    It is Also mentioned in the Holy Quran that if the people who do not beleive in this message make fun of it or disgrace it, then avoid them and do not sit with them until they talk about something else.

    Sam, the problem with Muslims is that they do not understand really well their religion, and the religous leaders on the middle east or preachers Lack alot of knowledge, they are the ones who brain wash the crowds. We in the middle east and north africa have very weak education systems. Yes religion is a way of life for us to we adhere its teachings, but the unfortunate thing is even the religous education is twisted to suit the needs of dictators in the middle east.

    Another thing is the Media does not help. Muslims have a wrong image about the westerners, they believe that ALL americans and europeans are out there to get them. Since Palestine was occupied there is a huge misunderstanding between the west and the east, and do not forget the colonization too. Alot of bad memories that is inherited from one generation to the other.

    Years and Years of dictators ruling the Muslims resutled in phycologicaly frustrated personalities, which flip just because they want to. It does not help being poor and opressed all your life. Saying that does not mean i am making excuses for us or them. But it is only stated so you and the others can understand what is going on.

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