Disproportionate Anti-U.S. Reaction Threatens the Arab Spring (Folha, Brazil)
hateful as the video is, its repercussions and the violence that followed are
clearly disproportionate. In Western countries, where the value of free
expression outweighs understandable religious sensibilities, it falls under the
category of a lamentable baseness that democracy is condemned to tolerate. ... This
is not the case in Muslim nations. Particularly in those with a penchant for theocracy
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the man said to be behind the making of The Innocence of Muslims, is now in hiding and in fear for his life. His ham-handed plan to counter Islam has set a good portion of the world into turmoil.
The video Innocence of
Muslims, which serves as a pretext for a series of attacks on American
targets in Islamic countries, is an odd sort of nastiness. Narrow-minded and
intolerant, it represents nothing but a clumsy attempt to incite prejudice
against Islamists at home - and not trigger the deadly acts that have followed
The authorship of the 14-minute film, which has
been available on the Internet since July, is unclear. But there are
indications that it received the backing of ultraconservative Christian
militants in California and Florida.
After the addition of Arabic subtitles, it spread across the
world. On the symbolic date of September 11th, it led to attacks on U.S.
representations in Egypt and Libya - and in Libya, Ambassador Christopher
Stevens and three other Americans were killed in an operation that counted al-Qaeda
members among its ranks.
New outbreaks of violence continued yesterday in Egypt,
Yemen and other countries, with hundreds wounded.
As hateful as the video is, its repercussions and the
violence that followed are clearly disproportionate. In Western countries,
where the value of free expression outweighs understandable religious
sensibilities, it falls under the category of a lamentable baseness that
democracy is condemned to tolerate.
This is not the case in Muslim nations. Particularly in those
with a penchant for theocracy or autocracy, the sacredness of Quranic norms and entities precedes the notion of
Even if one recognizes the justification for the repulsion
by the faithful to the desecration of Mohammad as a figure, that is no
justification for the assassination of innocent people - sacrificed just because
they were American. This is not the way to reconcile a more ideal form of
civilization with religious fundamentalism. This is an inescapable point of
contention that prevents an accommodation between the Western democracies and more
sectarian versions of Islam.
Of course, there are also examples of fanaticism in the United
States, but not the type of escalating hatred as is now being observed in some
It would therefore be unfortunate if President Barack
Obama, in full campaign mode, even considered using this incident as a pretext for
punitive raids, violating the sovereignty of nations to draw the sympathy of
It is concerning that anti-American violence has erupted in
the pioneer countries of the Arab Spring, such as Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. If
it intensifies, it may be a symptom of a democratic movement ceding ground to Islamic
factions that are more comfortable with theocratic dictatorships like Iran’s.