I listened to the BBC yesterday via NPR when the news was breaking about the protests in Egypt and Libya over an Islam-bashing film. Now of course we know Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens is dead among others. So what was the name of the film? The BBC would not name it in the broadcast. They kept referring to it as this or that film but not the specific title. While I understand not wanting to incite more violence, this felt like media cowardice at the time.
Yahoo News has an article on the film, the title is Innocence of Muslims. When you read about what’s contained in the film and the low quality production it sounds like a big stinker. You can watch parts of the film here. If it weren’t for these protests no one would give a damn about Innocence of Muslims. Now whoever produced it can capitalize on the hype and most likely make some money selling DVDs, if it isn’t all posted online eventually for free. Regardless, the creator of the film got his grandest wishes for the success of such a product–way to go Muslim extremists!
Obviously, Muslims haven’t yet learned what Christians seemed to have learned over the years: that protesting an offensive film only adds to the publicity and increase ticket sales. Remember Last Temptation of Christ? It should have been a boring religious art film by Martin Scorsese and yet it was taken to iconic levels due to Christian protests–to the point where some Christians offered a ton of cash to buy it and burn it. As if spending the money for that reason was more important than spending it on the poor (let God handle his own public relations if he wants to get rid of the film).
We should also remember there is a hidden political agenda here using religion. I think it’s pretty obvious there is planning behind the scenes by certain groups thinking, “How can we get the devoted all riled up this week?” That is another problem with being easily offended–because you can be easily exploited. Our fundamentalists in the USA have done it and are still doing it to raise money and promote their own ministries. Hell, the Mitt Romney campaign recently tried to create false outrage over God being removed from our currency.
While I have referred to Innocence of Muslims as a crappy film, that’s an assumption (based on the clips I’ve seen, looks pretty bad). It may contain elements of truth, albeit poorly conveyed or simplified. Watching the parts of the film available online, it’s sort of a propaganda piece suggesting Muslims in Egypt are out to get Christians. This week there was another story in Pakistan of Muslims threatening to kill the daughter of Christian parents because she’s accused of burning pages of the Koran. Rimsha Masih was actually put in jail for 3 weeks on blasphemy charges. Per this article by NDTV.com, “Insulting the prophet Mohammed is punishable by death and burning a sacred text by life imprisonment.” The neighbors are said to want to burn this Christian girl and other Christians like her.
There is a history of violence and intolerance by Muslims in Pakistan and it’s not a far stretch to include Egypt even as it is going through many changes in government. According to an Egyptian Coptic Christian, the police are biased against Christians and there has been a record of discrimination to justify the depictions shown in Innocence of Muslims. Sadly, I don’t find it surprising that Christians would be targeted in any country dominated by Islam.
UPDATE 9/17/2012: Apparently the director has been found out to be Alan Roberts, a seventies/eighties softcore porn director (you know, the kind of porn where you’re disappointed).