A forum devoted to current political, economic trends, and news of the Maghreb region.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Violent Attack in Libya: A test for all Muslims

Like many around the world I woke up today to the sad news of the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, three of his staffers and ten Libyan security guards who battled to protect the US Consulate in Benghazi last night. The savage attack was reportedly in reaction to the leaked movie called "Innocence of Muslims" released in the US about the Prophet of Islam Mohammed. I watched the leaked 10-minute segment of the video, and I was shocked, not only at the offensive content portraying the prophet as a pedophile, homosexual and a philanderer, but also at the low quality of the production, and the poor acting performance.  The video, at least in my mind, was clearly leaked right before the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, maybe in an attempt to inflame the passion of the irrational and fanatic few. The same kind of radical Muslims that took to the streets during the Danish cartoon furore and pastor Terry Jones' threat to stage a Quran burning event. So far, there is still wide confusion about the source of the video, since the early reports of an Israeli-American filmmaker were deemed untrue.

No matter what the movie’s content is, the reaction that it elicited was equally as offensive and savage. Egyptian mobs stormed the courtyard of the US embassy in Cairo, tore the US flag and erected an Islamic flag. Discontent continues to foment in Egypt today in clashes with security forces, amid a deafening silence from the Egyptian government, and Islamist president Mohamed Morsy. However, the more heinous attack occurred next door in Libya last night, where armed gangs of about 100 people reportedly launched a barbaric offensive on the US consulate.  Once again, Muslims around the world are at a loss of words, trying to defend the peacefulness of their religion. We, as Muslims, have to stand steadfast against the cancer of extremism and the fossilized modes of thinking that have gnawed at the core of our societies. Acts of violence only perpetuates the pre-conceived ideas and stereotypes that Islam is a religion of war, and Muslims as radical fanatics thirsty for blood at the slightest act of provocation.

The Prophet of Islam himself was a peaceful, rational, and a patient individual, who preached temperance and condemned acts of foolish anger. I am not a religious scholar, but I was taught early on about well-known hadiths (Prophet’s deeds and sayings), in which he proclaimed that: "The strong man is not the one who can overpower others; rather, the strong man is the one who controls himself when he gets angry." Where are these extremists from the prophet’s teachings? And does the prophet need their protection from every little incitment? These acts that solely seek to inflame the passions of Muslims are a true test for all of us to channel our angst towards displaying a positive view of Islam. 

Muslims continue to define their religion in terms of what it is not, instead of focusing on reaching out to other faiths and traditions to build the foundations for true inter-cultural dialogue. Others have engaged in the facile trope of blaming all the ills of the Middle East and the Muslim world on United States foreign policy. There are indeed too many shortcomings of a myopic US foreign policy in the region with its double standards, moral relativism and narrow focus on geo-strategic interests. However, we, Muslims, have to look inward and take action against the increasing, worrisome trend of extremism. Failing to educate and emancipate our own in the name of religion, while engaging in acts of abject violence to prove the virility of Islam does harm to Muslims and the religion we espouse.

This religion of peace has been bastardized to suit the purpose of those that resist and fear change. Contextualization of texts is blasphemous, adapting Quranic and Hadithic teachings to modern day realities is apostasy, and granting some basic individual and group freedoms is un-Islamic. People have not fought despots to succumb to the tyranny of the fanatically religious and misguided few. They've transgressed the limits of God and they are the blasphemers as they continue to spew hatred and sow the seeds of discord in Muslim land.

Ambassador Stevens was optimistic about the future of Libya, where he traveled with relatively little security. He interacted with average Libyans, and was integral to the US and NATO mission during the rebels’ push to topple Gaddafi. Libyans were and are grateful for the US, France and the UK for their assistance in their liberation. Ambassador Stevens would have been particularly pleased to see the many Libyans that took to the streets today in Tripoli and Benghazi to condemn the terrorist attack on the US consulate. Friends in Libya are all ashamed and unnecessarily apologetic about the vile attack on the consulate. They have demanded, along with other Libyans, stricter response from their government against armed extremist groups in their midst. Libya still struggles with internal issues of security and order, as many violent extremist groups are trying to hijack Libya’s path towards political progress. Now more than ever, Libya needs more assistance to steady its course towards a transition to democratic rule. 


Anonymous said...

"No matter what the movie’s content is, the reaction that it elicited was equally as offensive and savage"

an opinion not agreed upon is not in the same ball park as murder. I did enjoy your blog and think it is more important than ever for peacful Muslims to speak out against these acts of violence.
Thank You

Mohamed Daadaoui said...

I agree with with you. Thank you, anonymous.

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