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Provocation and Response: Muslims are Swallowing Islamophobes’ Bait

There can be no doubt that provocation was deliberate and intense. The vicious and vile documentary, Innocence of Muslims, scorning the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) in vilest colours, was calculated to trigger a violent Muslim backlash. It ended up doing just that.

Enemies of Muslims and Islam, whose numbers have been galloping in the west especially since the cataclysm of 9/11, know it for a fact how sensitive world Muslims-irrespective of their sectarian divides-when it comes to the persona of their beloved prophet. Revering the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is organic to their belief; their faith remains incomplete without utmost and selfless devotion to the last Messenger of Allah. God commands them to revere their prophet, whose personality would remain the most perfect and ideal role model for them.

Knowing the centrality of the love of the Holy Prophet in the lives of Muslims, the enemies of Islam-especially in the last quarter century-have made it a focal point of their satanic conspiracies to target his personality and character.

This vicious campaign of slander against the Holy Prophet was kicked-off, with deliberate design, in 1989 with the publication of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. The Islamophobes couldn’t have found a better bell-boy than him, a Muslim in name and by accident of birth, to spread their message of hatred of Muslims and their Holy Prophet.

9/11 was a god-send for Muslim-baiters and purveyors of vile propaganda against Islam. They found western governments standing right behind them and aching to unleash their fury against the world of Islam. The campaign to denigrate the Prophet of Islam received a hefty boost from government intelligence agencies, church groups, Zionists and their advocacy cohorts. Ridiculing the tenets of Islam, besmirching the name of its prophet and calibrating a vicious campaign of slandering Muslims as terrorists unfit to live in peace with the ‘civilised’ world, became the only sport in town. Muslims became fair game, with a license given to their denigrators and tormentors.

The Danish cartoons, of 2005, and the steady rise of right-wing Christian parties in Western Europe, were outcroppings of Islamophobia sweeping the shores of Europe and North America. The latest documentary, which has set the Muslim world ablaze, from Nigeria to Pakistan to Malaysia and Indonesia, fits perfectly into the pattern that has been in vogue for so many years with the clear intent to keep world Muslims agitated and in turmoil.

A great deal of mystery still surrounds the exact identity and provenance of the person, or persons, responsible for triggering this latest round of mayhem and violence in the world of Islam, with the release of their work of sleaze and filth.

Conventional wisdom in the news media of North America says the documentary-a 14-minute trailer caricaturing Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)-is the handiwork of an American of Coptic-Egyptian origins. His name has been given out as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a resident of Los Angeles, California.

The earliest version of the story about the producer of the film described him as an Israeli American, of Jewish faith. However, that initial version was very quickly erased and blotted out. Indeed the Jewish lobbies working full time in U.S. couldn’t have allowed Israel’s ‘shining’ name to be sullied or Jewish credentials dragged in the mushrooming controversy.

So now the popular media copy about the person responsible for this heap of rubbish says that Nakoula, an Egyptian Copt believed to be carrying a chip on his shoulder against Muslims and their prophet, did this with the help of a network of militant, Muslim-hating, Christian evangelicals, who have their own axe to grind against Muslims and their icons.

Another vicious character who shot to prominence and notoriety last year when he burnt copies of the Holy Qur’an outside his church in Florida also joined these anti-Muslim forces and lent them a helping hand in the production of this piece of filth against the Prophet of Islam. Pastor Terry Jones is a hate-monger, as vicious and vile as any, and offered his assistance to the film’s producer, voluntarily, to promote his dastardly undertaking.

Another media version being bandied about the heinous film in North America is that it was enabled to shoot to fame, world-wide, by the help extended to it from some Coptic circles inside Egypt, who are said to have been moved by their constant ‘persecution’ at the hands of Egypt’s Muslim majority. Some media pundits are beating their chests that life for Egyptian Copts is becoming intolerable under the post-Mubarak government led by the Muslim Brotherhood. Some are nostalgic about the soft hand Mubarak used in dealing with Egyptian Copts. Of course, there is no mention of how Mubarak tortured and hounded the Muslim Brotherhood and their followers under his cruel regime.

U.S. government, of course, isn’t prepared to accept any responsibility for the Muslim-hating campaign waged with such obvious ferocity and vehemence in U.S. Its excuse is as patent as that of other western governments: they can’t interfere in the freedom of speech guaranteed by western democracies. The Obama administration, though, has, at least, made a visible effort to try to impress the people of Pakistan-who have been most virulent in their denunciation and paid with the lives of more than 20 of them killed in the wave of violent protests that consumed the country from one end to another-that it has no hand in the film’s production. On the contrary, both President Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, have vouched in a brief television clip that was run on a number of Pakistani television channels, at the peak of agitation sweeping across the Muslim world, that their government doesn’t have an anti-Islam agenda and wants to cultivate the best of relations with the Muslim world.

However, protestations and affirmations of peace and best of conduct notwithstanding, the Muslim world, at this sensitive juncture on unfolding history, isn’t ready to be duped by empty slogans or sweet-scenting words that ring hollow when it comes to substance and meaning. Muslims are becoming increasingly conscious and aware of double-standards being practised by western governments with impunity when it concerns the interests of Muslims, the world over.

What Muslims know as a fact about the reality of free speech is that it isn’t limitless or without any boundaries. It’s a crime, for instance in almost all western countries, to question the Holocaust or cast any aspersion on its antecedents and ramifications. In a country like Canada, which used to be a haven of civil liberties and respect for human rights, the Conservative government in power is tinkering with a draft law that, if approved by the parliament, would make it a cognizable offence to question policies of Israel, because a critique of Israel is, in the myopic vision of the Conservatives, akin to anti-Semitism.

The proof of pudding, as the old saying says, about the double-speak of the west was served to world Muslim at the height of their global agitation against the snide attempt to tarnish their Holy Prophet’s impeccable image. A French magazine got its hands on some photographs of Kate Middleton, consort of Prince William of Britain, in which she was, reportedly, sunbathing in nude. The magazine wanted to run those sassy photographs for the benefit of its readers but the French government imposed a publication ban on the plea that it would hurt the sensitivities of the British royals. Fine. But what about the sensitivities of 1.4 billion Muslims of the world who hate to see their Holy Prophet’s name tarnished by some paid agents of Islamophobes with the clear intent to cause suffering to Muslim sensibilities?

Obviously, the west is still labouring in its false expectation that it can get away with any sacrilege of Islamic fundamentals or icons sacred to the world of Islam. To an extent it did, in this latest episode, as far as the affluent oil-producing and autocratic regimes of the Gulf were concerned. There was no public protest or agitation in these countries, at least for the record, except in Bahrain. But the truth is that the restive public in these tightly-controlled regimes wasn’t allowed to give free expression to their agitation against the snide campaign afoot in the west to denigrate Islam and its prophet.

But the newly liberated societies-such as Egypt, Libya and Tunisia-presented the west, used to getting away with its bluffs, with a huge surprise by organising massive popular agitations in response to the hurt deliberately caused to the sensitivities of Muslims. The upsurge of protest in Libya was particularly violent and caused the killing of American Ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three other members of his staff.

The murder of American diplomats was a heinous crime, no doubt, and allowed the practitioners of double-standards to occupy the high moral ground in the guise of world-wide condemnation of the diplomats’ slaying that followed.

The temptation to violence, in response to provocation, is truly becoming the Achilles’ heel of Muslims, even in situations triggered by episodes such as this one, where Muslim feelings are hurt in the truest sense of the word.

What Muslims of the world ought to understand is that by resorting to such violence they are doing no service to themselves, or to their religion or to their prophet, for whose sanctity and honour they are prepared to lay down their lives.

Violence is un-Islamic; it is the antithesis of the commandments of the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) whose message is loud and unambiguous: “killing one man is tantamount to the murder of mankind.”

The sickening proclivity to indulge in arson, violence and mayhem in the name of God is, without question, the greatest dis-service to God and His commandments. It’s also a case of double-jeopardy for Muslims of the world and bodes ill for their rightful place in the comity of nations.

On the one hand, the nihilistic tendency to burn, pillage and murder plays into the hands of ‘the enemy within’ the Islamic camp. The terrorists, of whatever persuasion or stripes, are out to subvert the collective demand of Muslim societies the world over for democratic freedoms-of justice, liberty, equality and respect for the people’s fundamental rights. The likes of Salafis and others of their ilk don’t particularly savor democracy and would, in its place, like to impose their own brand of a repressive Islam-which has little in common with Islam’s pristine model of good governance-on their polities.

On the other hand, the mad rush to call the Islamophobes’ bluff with a violent response and reaction feeds the anti-Muslim propaganda mills working overtime in the west. Pseudo-intellectuals and prurient media pundits, alike, are desperate to portray Muslims as a violent, undisciplined and uncivilised lot that can have no truck with the western values of unlimited freedoms, as well as societies based on the rule of law. Violent Muslim behaviour proves the point of shrill-voiced political gurus that Muslims are alien to democratic moorings because of innate structural flaws in their religious tenets and beliefs.
Muslim societies’ despicable tendency to give priority to gun over reason or disciplined argument and dialogue is proving to be their undoing. Regrettably, myopic rulers in most Islamic countries are deliberately augmenting the slide into disorderly conduct because it allows them room to thrive in their autocratic, and often inhuman, ways.

The need of the hour calls for all Islamic states-and there are 58 of them sheltering under the canopy of the OIC, a largely inactive and clueless debating club-to put their heads together and craft a well-thought-out strategy of engagement with the west. President Khatemi of Iran, when he was in power, had proposed a ‘dialogue-of-civilisations’ between the world of Islam and the west in order to avert the gathering storm of a ‘clash of civilisation’ sought by the neocons and their war-mongering cohorts.

The time to put teeth into Khatemi’s bold initiative is now. The stakes couldn’t be greater to propel both the Islamic world and the west in this direction.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 October 2012 on page no. 18

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