Batuhan: Much ado-A A +A
Friday, September 21, 2012
IN THE last few days we have seen the conflagration of violence in many capitals around the globe. Capitals of Islamic countries, that is.
You see, knowingly or otherwise, some joker of a filmmaker (if ever he could be called that) decided to make a trailer out of some supposed movie about Islam’s prophet, and decided to caricature the man in such a way that his followers were all agitated about it. And as a predictable result, they rioted against those they perceived to be either directly or indirectly behind the film—the West (particularly the US) and of course, Israel.
Never mind that the clip was posted in YouTube, accessible to just about anyone in the whole wide world. And never mind that the only connection of the filmmaker to the West was being a resident of the United States at the time he made the caricature. Never mind all this, but angry mobs could not see the tenuous connection between the man and their intended targets. For them, a random slight at Islam is a slight coming from the West and its so-called allies. Sad, but true. In today’s world of instant knowledge and information, millions of people still live in the information stone age, ignorant of where information comes from, and where it does not.
Two sides are clearly at fault here.
Let us start with the filmmaker. Being supposedly of Coptic (Christian) Egyptian origin, he should have known that you do not mess with Muslims when it comes to their religion. Whereas Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, and almost everybody else may get offended if you mocked their belief systems, they would probably not kill you for it, not literally at least.
But Muslims are the exception.
Borne out of historical angst about being “persecuted” by non-Muslims since the time of their founding, they are always on the defensive and prickly when it comes to their religion. There is no point instilling in them any sort of respect for free speech.
For many of them, there is no reasoning when it comes to those subjects. It is what it is. You insult, you die.
So Mr. Filmmaker should have been more circumspect with his subject. He could have done something about Jesus. I would have been offended, but at least I would not throw a grenade at him. Maybe I would even pray for his enlightenment and conversion, but I would not throw a fit.
But of course, maybe the filmmaker had an axe to grind. He is, after all, from a minority in a largely Islamic part of the world. Who knows what he suffered in that milieu? But still, he should have kept his feelings for himself. Or at least, away from YouTube. On his hands now are forever etched the blood of those who died for nothing amidst the resulting violence.
Of course, the senseless mob is to blame, too. And the governments who seemingly did not do enough to stop them.
Everyone loves their religion or belief system. That much we can be certain. But no matter how ardent our faith, we must leave room for skeptics, doubters and even hecklers to voice their opinions. After all, that is what religion—all religion— must be all about. Tolerance, patience, understanding and love.
Viewed in this context, all the violence seems to be much ado about nothing, really.
It was a sick and tasteless joke that should be condemned, but hopefully nothing more than that. Of course, we now know that it became much more than that.
Too bad that so many people had to die to prove its folly.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 22, 2012.