The producers of the crude film “Innocence of Muslims” are a collection of extremists, from the fanatical Coptic Christian director Nakoula Basseley Nakoula to his radical assistant Morris Sadek, the latter of which is resented by his own Coptic community more than anyone else. The film received the blessing of Pastor Terry Jones, an unrelenting Christian evangelist who seems to do nothing other than provoke Muslims. From a technological standpoint, the film looks ridiculous and is utterly unconvincing. We would have cause for concern if this had been a high-quality, professionally produced film, using subliminal deception in order to deliver its message and insinuating insults against the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, within the guise of objectivity, as some malicious orientalists seek to do.
Like an axe, this crude film came down on the heads of all Muslims across the world. No one can blame the tidal wave of anger that swept the Muslim world from its depths to its heights, on the grounds that it has only drawn further attention to this ridiculous film. Perhaps the sheer extent of the angry reactions – although some have reached an unacceptable degree, such as assaults against American embassies – represents an alarm bell for Western governments to do something. As for those protesting in favor of the freedom of opinion, this freedom is often overruled by Western laws that criminalize doubting or ridiculing the Holocaust. The West must be aware that it is also a beneficiary from these laws criminalizing contempt for religions and insulting their symbols, and the West must understand that unless it can deter its own maniacs from provocative acts, it will be almost impossible for the countries of the Islamic world to deter their own extremists.
I return to the argument that the Muslims’ reaction, demonstrations and expression of anger only serves to grant further exposure to this film or in fact any shameful act that disrespects and insults Islam and its symbols. This was originally true before the means of communication that exist nowadays, and with the massive technological revolution it is now difficult to confine something to obscurity. Advising millions of Muslims to simply ignore what is directed at them by extremists in the West is incredibly optimistic, for the communications revolution has granted every individual and media outlet further exposure. Now, with innovations such as Twitter and YouTube, calling for people to ignore provocation or control their reactions is like a cry in a deserted valley. The same advice was offered in the days of the “Satanic Verses”, and during the problems surrounding the cartoons depicting the Prophet, Kashgari’s tweets and so on, but this was all to no avail. The safest and most secure way remains for the countries of the Islamic world, through their official and public institutions, to pressure the countries of the West to enact the laws that criminalize insulting religions and their symbols.
One of the crises that the “Innocence of Muslims” has brought to light is the radical thinking of some intellectuals. Because of Islamophobia, these intellectuals have begun to imagine that the overwhelming outrage in defense of the Prophet has been orchestrated purely by the Islamists. In doing so, these intellectuals have underestimated the public reaction to such abuse and disrespect, with ordinary people also rushing to defend their Prophet, albeit in a legal and civilized manner.