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Published on September 24th, 2012 | by Usman Butt
Image © [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="566"] © By Mohamed CJ, Clerics protest, via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]   It has been an inescapable story over the last week, protests and violent demonstrations have erupted across the Muslim world as a response to the ‘controversial’ film on Youtube called ‘innocence of Muslims’. The film depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a foolish and power hungry man. It crosses between a modern Egyptian Coptic Christian family in ‘Islamist’ Egypt and the life of the Prophet Muhammad. The film received little attention when it was released early this year in June, however it was recently dubbed into Arabic. The Arabic version was picked up by an Egyptian Islamist TV channel Al-Nas who broadcasted a two-minute clip from the film.  The film almost immediately went viral, being shared online and spread throughout the Muslim world this led to protests and demonstrations. These demonstrations turned violent in some places, with the American Ambassador to Libya and three of his staff being killed. In the Sudan the German embassy was burnt down and the British embassy attacked. There have been numerous protests throughout the Muslim world and it is clear that these protestors hold the government of the United States responsible. It is without question that the reaction to the film by a minority of Muslims has been criminal. However, there is another more disturbing angle to this story which has emerged within various Western media outlets, the producers of ‘innocence of Muslims’ wanted to depict Islam as a violent religion. These violent demonstrations seem to have confirmed this view in the eyes of many in the West. However this view of ‘them’ and ‘us’, ‘we’ the West is rational, scientific and progressive and the East in general and Islam in-particular are inherently ‘violent’ and ‘regressive’ is not new.  What this narrative ignores is the fact that many people in the Muslim world came out against the violent protests. The narrative that has made headlines throughout the western world has been the supposed idea of ‘Muslim rage’. The concept of Muslim rage suggests that Muslims are of a singular mindset, which is collectively angry at the West. The ‘Muslim’ mind is in-capable at understanding difference of opinion and it takes western science to analyse this. The pitfalls of this idea are obvious and yet despite to so-called liberal anti-racism of western societies such crude generalisations still seem to appear. In the 1990’s with the collapse of the Soviet Union the United States was the world’s sole superpower and this was interpreted as a victory for liberal democracy. However, as the United States was the sole superpower, paranoia about their position grew stronger. They began to see threats from the so-called East and that this ‘new East’ would unite against them in a so-called ‘clash of the civilisations’. The debate we now see emerging is a continuation of this old debate and this old debate does not seek to understand the world as it is, but it seeks to create a new world based on its own awful vision. The Muslim world is not homogenous and there is no such thing as Muslim rage. The Muslim world is extremely diverse as this Pew study indicates. It is without doubt that there are extremists in the Muslim world, however extremists also exist from within the West too. These divisions of East and West not only malign entire groups of people they also serve to divide humanity. Unless countering extremism occurs on both sides ‘our way of life’ really will be threatened.  

3

Exterminate All the Brutes: ‘Muslim rage’ and ‘Western counter-rage’

© By Mohamed CJ, Clerics protest, via Wikimedia Commons

 

It has been an inescapable story over the last week, protests and violent demonstrations have erupted across the Muslim world as a response to the ‘controversial’ film on Youtube called ‘innocence of Muslims’. The film depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a foolish and power hungry man. It crosses between a modern Egyptian Coptic Christian family in ‘Islamist’ Egypt and the life of the Prophet Muhammad. The film received little attention when it was released early this year in June, however it was recently dubbed into Arabic. The Arabic version was picked up by an Egyptian Islamist TV channel Al-Nas who broadcasted a two-minute clip from the film.  The film almost immediately went viral, being shared online and spread throughout the Muslim world this led to protests and demonstrations. These demonstrations turned violent in some places, with the American Ambassador to Libya and three of his staff being killed. In the Sudan the German embassy was burnt down and the British embassy attacked. There have been numerous protests throughout the Muslim world and it is clear that these protestors hold the government of the United States responsible.

It is without question that the reaction to the film by a minority of Muslims has been criminal. However, there is another more disturbing angle to this story which has emerged within various Western media outlets, the producers of ‘innocence of Muslims’ wanted to depict Islam as a violent religion. These violent demonstrations seem to have confirmed this view in the eyes of many in the West. However this view of ‘them’ and ‘us’, ‘we’ the West is rational, scientific and progressive and the East in general and Islam in-particular are inherently ‘violent’ and ‘regressive’ is not new.  What this narrative ignores is the fact that many people in the Muslim world came out against the violent protests.

The narrative that has made headlines throughout the western world has been the supposed idea of ‘Muslim rage’. The concept of Muslim rage suggests that Muslims are of a singular mindset, which is collectively angry at the West. The ‘Muslim’ mind is in-capable at understanding difference of opinion and it takes western science to analyse this. The pitfalls of this idea are obvious and yet despite to so-called liberal anti-racism of western societies such crude generalisations still seem to appear. In the 1990’s with the collapse of the Soviet Union the United States was the world’s sole superpower and this was interpreted as a victory for liberal democracy. However, as the United States was the sole superpower, paranoia about their position grew stronger. They began to see threats from the so-called East and that this ‘new East’ would unite against them in a so-called ‘clash of the civilisations’.

The debate we now see emerging is a continuation of this old debate and this old debate does not seek to understand the world as it is, but it seeks to create a new world based on its own awful vision. The Muslim world is not homogenous and there is no such thing as Muslim rage. The Muslim world is extremely diverse as this Pew study indicates. It is without doubt that there are extremists in the Muslim world, however extremists also exist from within the West too. These divisions of East and West not only malign entire groups of people they also serve to divide humanity. Unless countering extremism occurs on both sides ‘our way of life’ really will be threatened.

 

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About the Author

Usman Butt

Usman graduated in 2012 with an MA in Palestine Studies from the University Of Exeter. Before that he read Arabic Language and International Relations at the University of Westminster. Amongst his proudest achievements include winning a muffin for public speaking, winning a Lego set at age 5 and helping Palestinian refugees learn English. Usually writes about genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, Israel/Palestinian politics, Iranian/Syrian/Lebanese politics, the Arab Spring, philosophy, religion, British politics, Foreign Policy, history and social issues. He enjoys writing as he sees it as an outlet to express his opinions about the public discourse on these issues. He believes writing is a good way of keeping productive and teaching yourself new things.



  • eurojunkie

    Thank you for this post, I agree completely, and I'm so tired of the general media coverage and discourse arguing that this is the "nature" of Islam, as if that didn't mean completely different things to different people. Generalisations like this will only create further distrust and conflict.

  • Great article ! x

  • jearuiz01

    I do agree

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