With all the screaming headlines you’d think that an amalgamation of World War III, Ebola and the melting of the polar ice-caps was upon us. The biggest global news stories involve two individuals who are as different as can be. A convicted California fraudster, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and the elegant Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton. One made a movie that then got uploaded onto YouTube, while the other simply decided to sun herself semi-nude in the south of France. While the cases are totally different, they are linked by one thing. They are a waste of time.
I think that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is a victim. Not because he isnt an Islamophobe, because he is. Not because he’s not an attention-whore, because he is. Not because he’s talking cheap shots at a religion and a people who feel marginalized by the international system, because he has. The man is a victim because he’s being blamed for something that simply isnt his fault. The riots that occurred in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and Malaysia, which have killed 19 people so far, having very little to do with the 15 minute long ‘Innocence of Muslims’ clip despite what some well-meaning observers believe. The Los Angeles Times’ Sarah Chayes goes as far as stating that, “the film…indirectly led to the death of the US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens”.
I’ve watched the video and I can understand why some people are unhappy. Those who love the art of cinematography will hate the fact that it has cringe worthy dialogue, poor acting and lousy sound and lighting. And those who love Islam (or in my case, religious sensitivity and tolerance) will hate the fact that it is heretical. In my opinion, this is a movie that should have never been made.
However, don’t for one second believe that the US Ambassador was killed by Muslim hordes, screaming for blood. He was killed in a coordinated attack using heavy weapons, not by stones or Molotov cocktails. There are other players in this tragedy and very few people are talking about them.
All politics is local
Instead of blaming the crazy Californian for provoking the riots and murders, we should ask ourselves this. Why did the majority of the riots happen after the Friday prayers? Is it perhaps because the imams and mullahs encouraged the young men to go out onto the street?
Call me a conspiracy theorist but I wouldn’t put it past factions on the fringes of the current political system to make some sort of power play. The post-Mubarak-Gaddafi and Ben Ali Middle East is still trying to find its feet and what I believe we are seeing is a fight pitting moderate Islamist factions such as the ruling Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt against the hardliners of Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Jemmah Islamiyah et al.
The hardliners are being pushed to the sidelines and they don’t like it one bit. ‘Luckily’ for them the video arrived like manna from the heavens. And trust me, they will milk it for all they can. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has called on Western leaders to “prove that they were not accomplices in this big crime” while Egyptian cleric Ahmed Ashoush has gone further, saying that “blood must be shed. Their (the movie’s producer, actors and directors) killing is the duty of every capable Muslim”.
So, when Westerners like columnist Jonah Goldberg write “if these people hate us…maybe we should accept that fact and stand up for what we believe”, I believe that they miss the point. These young men, aren’t just rioting because they hate Americans and their accursed Freedom of Speech. It’s a local quarrel, nothing more.
If you read the British press all you see are commentaries, op-eds and editorials loudly cursing the Irish Daily Star, the French Closer magazine and the Italian Chi magazine for daring to publish topless pictures of Prince Williams wife, Kate nee Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge. A spokesperson for the Royal Family has called the pictures, which were taken by long range lenses, “a shocking beach of personal intimacy”, and I can’t help but agree with them.
But I cannot help but smile at the hypocrisy in the English media’s smugness and faux outrage. This is a media that tapped people’s phones and bribed police. They aren’t angels. Just a few weeks ago, Prince Harry’s nude photos were splashed across The Suns cover. So, what’s the difference?
There are more important things to concentrate on than titillating pictures and provocative movies. Israel wants to bomb Iran, the Euro is still in a lot of trouble, the US presidential election is fast approaching, China and Japan are rattling their sabres and the Joint Verification Mechanism is up and running in Goma, Eastern DRC.