As American embassies in North Africa, The Middle East and some Muslim countries come under attacks by what seems to various protests by angry mobs unfortunately some fellow hacks take a superficial view saying Muslims were incensed by a film insulting the founder of Islam prophet Mohammed. By doing so they ignore basic facts about the motives of those orchestrating the protest and the timing of it.
The BBC in several analysis – especially in two way discussion with their Middle East Editor, currently in Libya,- still take the line that the protests shows how America’s policy and motives are viewed with suspension and distrust in the region. They make no mention of the deliberate stirring up of the protest by Islamist groups and even newly ‘ democratically’ elected Islamist leaders, especially in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. Most, if not all new ( post 2011 revolutions) regimes or political Islamists groups backing them planned this upheaval as it was they exactly the crisis they needed if not themselves orchestrated ) this upheaval with an external enemy, bearing in mind a fact which was evident in all similar events (the Danish Cartoons, Salman Rushdie’s 1988 book, the teacher arrest over Teddy bear in children’s school in Sudan etc) not even one in 200,000 Muslims would have watched the film (it was first shown in June when the makers couldn’t even fill a small 60 seat auditorium and was available on You-Tube since early june), but it is rather interesting how many analysts ( especially BBC reporters) ignored the timing of political Islamists’ propaganda putting it on front-pages on the eve of 9/11 with a specific aim in mind. For example in Benghazi, where the BBC keep peddling the claim that it was an angry mob that stormed the US embassy killing the ambassador and three of his staff, the reality on the ground indicates it was NOT the mob that killed the diplomats but an Islamist armed group Ansar al-Shariaa ( the partisan of Islamic law ) group who organised the attack and had weapons prepared and had access to the the intelligence of the staff and ambassador’s moves even the address of the a safe house to which embassy staff retreated which came under attacka day later.
In the case of Egypt, this crisis came as a god’s gift to President Morsi and his Muslim Brothers masters.
The crisis deflects wide criticism in media of Morsi’s failure (even in a public speech) to come up with proposals for coherent policy or plan to address economic problems and lack of social justice that was a main trigger for revolution.
It also helps move the focus away from the erosion of human rights, censorship ( newspapers closed and journalists charged with ‘ insulting the president’ to face trial ) and attacks on arts, culture and women’s rights by playing the Muslims favourite card of the decadent west targeting Islam and Muslims, hence making the above liberal issues appear not to be that important ( in the mind of the masses); on the contrary, they’d argue, you need an Iranian Islamic republic type strong message of protecting Islam.
Muslim brothers calling a million-man march ( entitled “championing the prophet”) designed to consolidate their grip on the streets after all the marches in the past few weeks were called by liberal and secular groups against Morsi and MB. Following their followers attacks TV stations which were closed down for being critical of president Morsi’s policies, MB see this as rehearsal for future attacks on any cultural centres, arts or theatres, etc not conforming to their ideology, attacks Egyptian liberals nervously expect, as they said.
Morsi’s ambiguous stand is designed as a subtle ( but not that subtle from a western view) message to Washington that he can tune, up or down, anti-American feelings and protest at will; a message to the Obama administration after the latter’s phone call to Morsi Tuesday ( the reading of the script released by the US embassy in Cairo sounded more of an apology rather than making the Egyptian leader responsible for the safety of US diplomat) I n places like Lebanon, Iran, and other pro president Assad regimes countries, protests attacking US and western missions a warning that toppling Assad would unleash anti-American and anti Western forces.
In Iran, of course rekindling the great Satan enemy theory helps moves focus from regime’s failure in economy, hum rights and foreign policy over the nuclear weapons issue. In addition it is important for the Iranians not let Sunni organisations like Muslim Brothers monopolise anti-American protests and the facade of protecting Islam ; the Shia must do their bit too…
In Sudan, the regime of Military Islamists Gen Bashir ( wanted by ICC for genocide and war crimes in Darfur and split the southern part of his mainly Christian part) encourage the protest again to shift focus from his appalling policies into an outside enemy.
In short like the old days when Arab dictators ( colonel Nasser, Saddam, Assad, Gaddafi etc) kept anti-Israel, anti-America as a convenient tool to use to keep protests and mass’s negative energy away from targeting them, why the new Islamists autocrats should be expected to behave differently?
Unfortunately we will expect more since the Obama administration, and to a certain extent British foreign policy, seems to back Isalmists take over hoping they would bring stability and continue business as usual.
It is almost tempting to say those countries are not ready for democracy yet, but is not that simple. With educational system ( starting with colonel Nasser destruction of the pre-1958 educational concept established on European style in Egypt 1832 by Rifaa Tahtawi & Ali Pasah Mubarak,) there is hardly demarcation lines separating the collective psyche ( or collective mind of the masses – if one can use it) from the cynical attitude of the ruling autocracies and political groups ( most of Batathist style colonel Nasser’s Arab nationalists identify the same ‘ enemies’ Israel, west America, like Islamists); I think I was among very few ( and for weeks the only) Cassandra(s) in Fleet Street & British media during early 2011 ‘ revolutions’… warning that with poor education and way-below-standard Arab media peoples in the region were sleepwalking into historic disaster with replacing dislodgeable masters with a much harder to dislodge ones.
© Copyright Adel Darwish 2012, not to be reprinted, reproduced, quoted in whole or in part without permission
I believe the violent protests against an obscure unseen film have done more damage to the image and reputation of muslims than the film itself. Security failures around the US Embassy in Benghazi led to the tragic killing of the Ambassador Chris Stevens and 3 of his colleagues. The muslims have again shot themselves in the foot.