Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Innocence of Muslims

Two things. First, it would appear that we still need a 'bogeyman'. To be able to define our own values, it seems easier to be able to point to the values that make us nervous. Secondly, history is written by those in power and power today is in the collective hands of the 'western' media. Whether this is print media or the various forms of digital media - internet, television and so on; those who control the media undoubtedly have the greatest influence on collective thought. In a media climate where sensation sells and profits comes before anything else; nothing is really sacred.

As we have previously seen and have often discussed on these pages, Muslims are repeatedly cast as the 'bogeyman' in the current media narrative. We are easily portrayed as irrational, volatile and confrontational or hopeless victims trapped by faith and in need of liberal intervention to uplift us. It's a simplistic media view and is formed by the majority with power. 

It therefore surprises few then, that an obscure amateur film targeting Islam with ridicule should now be the focus of considerable public attention. Protests linked to the film in Benghazi, Libya led to an attack on the US embassy and the killing of the US ambassador and similar protests have taken a grip in many other major cities in the Muslim world, and here in London too.

The reaction by Muslims itself generates debates on whether a response that is a violent reflex action, is wise. Do Muslims themselves send out the right signals and is this in accordance with the commonly agreed teachings of Islam? Muslims, of course, are diverse and the truth is there is little chance of a uniform response - even at the individual level, we do not all respond in the same manner to the challenges that face us. However, there is a vacant space between the those in power and the Muslim masses, so I guess, it matters not. The film was a deliberate jibe and the violence in protest to the film was fairly predictable especially since many Muslims are frustrated by injustices - some internal and stemming from the societies in which they live and others external - anti-Islamism coming from a media machinery that continues to reinforce stereotypes and irreligiosity. I think left alone, Muslims are more than able to find their own way.

Ultimately the unequal relationship between the Muslim world and the west hurts Muslims the most. From where we stand this is likely to continue to be a long and protracted power struggle.

May Allah keep us all safe and in faith.

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