After viewing clips from an amateur film produced in the United States that mocked Muhammad—the seventh century huckster who founded the Islamic faith—protestors in Cairo scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy and ripped down an American flag. Later that day in Benghazi, Libya, a marauding horde of Muslim extremists stormed the U.S. consulate, and killed four embassy workers including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, John Christopher Stevens. The film, whose lengthy trailer is on YouTube, was made by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, and has been promoted by the infamous and dunderheaded Floridian pastor, Terry Jones.
In Islam, it is considered blasphemous to mock or even depict the so-called prophet. Of course, it is one thing to insist that such censorship prevail in one’s own country. It is quite another to violently demand that other countries do likewise.
The besieged U.S. embassy in Cairo issued a hasty response after the breach, no doubt fearing additional waves of the frenzied religious rabble. It read,
“The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions... We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
Thankfully, however, this mea culpa was short-lived. As one administration official told Politico, “The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government.” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton subsequently issued a statement of her own, saying in part,
“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
At least the frightened embassy workers in Cairo had good reason for attempting to appease the angry mob at their gates. However, the same cannot be said for the craven apologists for this violence who took to Twitter to express their dismay and anger at Jones, who promoted the film. Some readers may be familiar with Jones—the buffoonish pastor with the Hulk Hogan Fu Manchu, who last year held a Quran burning in Florida that prompted rioters in Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan to slaughter 12 United Nations workers. The murderers beheaded two of their victims, as if to proudly emphasize their primeval savagery.
Jones had recently plugged the movie along with a frivolous holiday he contrived called “International Judge Muhammad Day” on September 11. Apparently for some, this warrants blame being laid not at the feet of the perpetrators of the violence, but at Jones, whose only offense was to promote an obscure, poorly-acted, and embarrassingly low-budget American film that portrays Mohammed as a debauched sexual freak.
Colin Clark, AOL’s Defense Editor tweeted,
John Aravosis of AMERICAblog said of Jones,
Some tweets from lesser-known observers were equally disconcerting:
And on and on. Search for yourself and you will see an inordinate number of tweets blaming Jones for what happened on Tuesday. No doubt full-length apologias for the attacks from personalities in the world of liberal punditry are on tap, as well pleas that we all be more respectful of others’ religions.
All of this will miss the point, which is that if freedom of speech is to mean anything, it must be immune to the protestations of the offended, even if they are the self-righteous howls of holy indignation.
Clips from film in question, The Innocence of Muslims.