Throughout many countries in the Middle East, including Lebanon, Libya, Egypt, and Sudan, violent riots have broken out in response to a U.S. based movie called “Innocence of Muslims”. These violent uprisings began on September 11th, a day which still brings strife and separation between the U.S. and the Middle East. Whether these acts are a mere coincidence is still up for debate, but the protests have not slowed down in the past few days. Lebanon, as well as many other countries, have been forced to step up their security forces following attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya and American fast food chains throughout Lebanon.
The U.S.-made film that has sparked so much controversy in the Muslim world supposedly mocks the life of Muhammad, the Islamic religion’s most prominent historical figure. Muslims throughout many Middle Eastern countries are upset with the movie’s portrayal of Muhammed as a womanizer and pedophile, amongst many other things. Riots have broken out in the streets leading to many deaths, including innocent civilians. Recently, an American school was set on fire, American flags have been burnt, and Anti-U.S. chants have been heard throughout the streets of many Middle Eastern Countries.
These riots have also taken place during the same time that the Pope was visiting Lebanon. During the visit, his goal was to preach about peace and acceptance, as well as the importance of mending ties between the Middle East and other countries around the world. Despite the Pope’s efforts, violence has not halted and angry protestors have not given up. The Hezbollah group even called for a nationwide riot immediately following the Pope’s departure from Lebanon.
Despite the hurtful ideas presented in this film, the reactions coming from many Muslims do not reflect their supposed religious beliefs. Their actions surely go against Islamic teachings and will prove to be detrimental to the religion if clashes with other religions and countries continue. Muslims’ preach peace, however, violence and war over the past few years definitely contradicts these beliefs. It seems that a certain group of extremist Muslims have taken their actions way to far and have left scars on the religion, as many people judge their actions and assume that every Muslim holds these same beliefs.
The United States, as well as the Middle East, have both been involved in stereotyping. Both have fallen victims to it, as well as been on the other side, by poorly judging others. A lot of this judgement and stereotyping stems from actions of a small group of individuals that reflect on their entire culture or religion. This not only harms peaceful ties between groups, but also prevents new ties from forming in the future. When one judges an entire group of people based on the actions of a few, they are losing out on opportunities and holding themselves and others back. If the US and the Middle East are to mend ties and become allies, each person must move past false judgements and give others a chance. Until the stereotyping bridge is lifted, countries or groups of people will not be able to work with each other towards a brighter future. The recent violent actions of rioters throughout the Middle East is a good example of how the actions of a few people have left a great mark on how an entire country is perceived. These rioters have taken extreme measures to voice their opposition towards an entire country, rather than just the few responsible for the controversy.
Some rioters have yelled, “freedom of speech is not an excuse”. This definitely holds true, however, how are they to judge every American simply by the act of the few people that wrote and produced the film. The attacks of September 11th on the U.S. share many similarities with the current riots in the Middle East. Many Americans have poorly judged all of the Middle East for the actions of a small group. I believe that Americans have slowly but surely started to move past this and recognize that not every Muslim or Middle Eastern person can be blamed for the horrific events of that day. As American’s move towards forgiveness and tolerance, they will hopefully share a positive example to people in the Middle East struggling with anger towards American’s due to this film.
The filmmaker was taken into custody in California recently. Hopefully this will show Muslims that the U.S. is neither involved nor in support of this film. Once that message is preached, hopefully rioters throughout the Middle East will halt the violence and look towards a peaceful future with the U.S.