KRAYEM: Rage is right, riots are not

Iam Arab. I condemn the movie “Innocence of Muslims,” which mocks the Muslim religion and its prophet. I also condemn the abhorrent reaction of protestors on the American embassy in Libya that lead to the death of ambassador Chris Stevens and three other American diplomats.

I have watched the protests at American Embassies in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon and Iran. My senses are fueled by rage, my mind occupied by a surge of thoughts finally making their way onto paper.

The movie, a thirteen-minute trailer, depicts the Muslim prophet as a slaughterer, glutton and child molester. It derides excerpts of the Quran as solely the creation of the “preposterous” prophet, tailored to his personal needs and obsession with power. Needless to say, the trailer is poorly produced, the actors are far from impressive and the art direction is a joke.

I have been brought up in a secular surrounding, with no ties to any religion. However, I have learned to be tolerant and respectful towards any religion. I do not use the term tolerant loosely. I do not believe that one religion is superior over any other; rather, each is a mere set of beliefs and lifestyle people choose to abide by.

When I saw the movie, I was offended. Not as an Arab, not to signal support for Muslims, but as an individual whose values do not allow mocking or disrespecting people’s beliefs no matter the reason.

While the message of the trailer is far from subliminal, it is quite obvious that the purpose is to anger masses of Muslims, igniting violence that would serve as fodder for depictions of Muslims as extremists or terrorists — or any other rehashed label.

And — hearty congratulations to the repulsive but prodigious work of a young American — the rage has erupted like never before. Rioters have killed an ambassador and three other employees and confined American embassies in several countries, all in an attempt to protect what is left of their Muslim dignity.

I am ashamed of those people. Islam is not an identity. It is a religion that you believe in. It does not define you, and it certainly does not ask of you to slaughter any American because an offensive film’s producer is American. The theory of transitivity does not hold, and will never hold, especially when used to validate such unjustified violence.

America did not produce this movie; a dim-witted American did. Nothing justifies this massive outrage and dispossession of lives in reaction to an offensive movie.

I am aware that the United States Constitution upholds freedom of opinion and allows movies considered blasphemous and provocative of public outrage to be seen, but such a movie is taking freedom of expression a stretch too far, particularly given that its sole aim is to insult, ridicule and disrespect the Muslim religion. I refuse to compare this trivial movie to great works like Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Temptation of Christ.” While I will not delve into the details of conspiracy theories, it is no coincidence that Sam Bacile’s movie came out on Sept. 11. Bizarrely lengthy trailers force audiences to question whether the whole movie actually exists.

We live in a tough world where everyone must be held accountable for his actions on an individual level, but certainly not on a national level. There are civil ways to punish Bacile, and the rule of law must prevail. The answer is not public vandalism of American property worldwide; the answer is not murder. Quite the contrary, such thoughtless reactions divert the attention from the real issue at hand and highlight our shameless faults.

I am Arab. And I dream of an Arab world of moderation: a world where people are able to read between the lines and distinguish between a set-up and a real cause, a world where our rage is not instinctive but tamed and rationalized.

Two years ago, in the name of the Arab Spring, we made a vow to transition to a better world, a world void of tyranny, marked by freedom and enriched by tolerance. Today, we taint that vow with horrid barbaric actions of extremism from the seventh century. I dream of a setting where a movie like “Innocence of Muslims” is belittled, ignored and laughed at — a setting where religion is not an identity, where none of us has the urge to kill. I am Arab, and I dream a lot.

Dima Krayem is a master’s student in international and development economics.

Comments

  • Arafat

    My understanding is the maker of the film is a Coptic Christian. The Coptic Christians – one of Christianities most ancient communities – is and has been under persecution by Muslims for centuries. The ridiculously named Arab Spring has made their fate even worse with kidnappings of their children and subsequent forced conversions, with murders, rape and destruction to their property.

    Talk about something to get angry about. Well here it is.

  • Arafat

    Dima writes, “The movie, a thirteen-minute trailer, depicts the Muslim prophet as a slaughterer, glutton and child molester.”

    I have spent countless hours studying Islam and the Qur’an, hadiths and Sunna make some things very clear. Mohammed was a sexual predator. He had 11 wives, his last one being nine years old when he consummated that marriage. He did use rape on at least a couple of occasions to humiliate his foes. Although it is questionable whether Mohammed actually killed there is no question he ordered his followers to slaughter time and time again. One instance of this is when he ordered his men to behead 600 to 900 men and boys in the village of Qurayza – the women and girls he took as slaves.

    One thing that enrages me is Muslims who seemingly gloss over these parts of their religion and instead shine the light on something else. It comes across as a magician’s trick, a sort of sleight of hand if you will and it makes one forget what the real issue is, i.e., Islam, a 7th century religion founded by a man who claimed he spoke to Allah and who seemed to make up the rules along the way. A religion where Muslims are supreme (specifically Arab Muslims) and everyone else is inferior. This is why we see reactions like we are currently seeing. It’s not the film maker’s fault that Muslims rampage. It is their fault.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “I am Arab. And I dream of an Arab world of moderation: a world where people are able to read between the lines and distinguish between a set-up and a real cause, a world where our rage is not instinctive but tamed and rationalized.”

    Religions, no matter what name they take, are self-righteous shields behind which fanatics and zealots can sanctify their obsession with power.

    PK

    M.Div. ’80

  • eli1

    Muslims are honestly so ridiculous. I am a practicing Catholic and my religion is mocked on a weekly basis on South Park and other movies (Dogma, etc.). I have never once felt the need to go kill people because of this. If you want to know why people in this country don’t like Muslims, this type of irrational behavior would be a good place to start.

    • joematcha

      Muslims are honestly not ridiculous, zealots are. Also, you do realize that the central theme in Dogma is the reaffirmation of faith, right?

      • eli1

        I find all Muslims ridiculous in the fact that, instead of condemning the zealots, the good muslims instead try to defend them and rationalize their actions as being even remotely consistent with the American way of life. The fact that the author is supporting the idea that Islamic rage is somehow right due to a 12 minute movie is so absurd, and makes the whole religion seem fanatical in the minds of many Americans.

        As for Dogma, I dont remember the premise of the movie. Just trying to demonstrate that you can poke fun at my religion(e.g.Chris Rock, the 13th disciple being written out of the bible because he’s black, etc.) all you want and, since I believe in free speech and being at least somewhat rational, it does not make me immediately want to go out and kill innocent people.

      • eli1

        P.S. How long until Obama gets the Youtube video pulled from the Internet?? Can’t piss off a key voting demo in the name of free speech.

  • RexMottram08

    We just found another Arab who doesn’t understand freedom of expression.

    Your cultural relativism would make you a wonderful dhimmi.

  • solrac

    I don’t agree with your title at all. Rage is violent or uncontrollable anger. It is very obvious because of this Islamic Rage RIGHT of yours inflamed the rioters without using their heads.

  • River_Tam

    > There are civil ways to punish Bacile

    Not in America, thank goodness.

    • ldffly

      Yes for now, but if we all think very hard, we’ll find some way to get it done.

  • SY14

    Isn’t it currently thought that an Egyptian Coptic Christian living in America produced this video? Not sure if he is a citizen or not.

  • Gobias

    **I have been brought up in a secular surrounding, with no ties to any religion. However, I have learned to be tolerant and respectful towards any religion. I do not use the term tolerant loosely. I do not believe that one religion is superior over any other; rather, each is a mere set of beliefs and lifestyle people choose to abide by.**

    I am sure the author meant to be universally conciliatory with these remarks, but it is both a shallow dismissal of actual faithful people and an abdication of moral responsibility to reduce religious belief to picking out wallpaper. No religion is better than any other? None is better than radical Islam?

    And why can’t Islam, or another religion, be an identity? I should think the traditions and institutions oriented toward ultimate things, to answer what human beings and their earthly lives are really all about, would have an uncanny felicity for it. I honestly don’t see the point in any that is not. There are far better hobbies.

    The difference as it concerns these particular episodes of hate and violence is I know plenty of religious folks who are secure enough in their identity that offensive slights, or even real persecution, do not turn them into wicked people.

  • metempsychosis

    White Christian American here. I am horrified by these comments.

    • LtwLimulus90

      because they’re rational (for the most part) and sidestep political correctness?

  • pke

    Talking about the events while your thousands of miles away seem interesting; What if you try to be around in the middle east and live it, yes there is anger and rage; a KFC restaurant employing Muslims was burned by angered Muslims, yes this doesn’t make sense still it is happening.

    One has to admit that it’s a jungle out there, Maybe Chrisitanism is fading away because its defenders are not around and human nature pushes people blindly to follow the strong .

    We had the Pope visiting Lebanon recently and to my surprise one of the TV anchors were commenting that in the world there is around 1.2billion Catholic and 1.4billion Muslims, and in the same time the Christians community in Jerusalem and the holy land is decreasing drastically; and guess what no one is doing anything about that.

  • ignatz

    Keep dreaming, Dima. Keep dreaming that Islam doesn’t demand murder of “infidels” (but when you wake up, check out “Reliance of the Traveler” and see the truth). Keep dreaming that the latest riots were spontaneous events that somehow reflect deeply hurt feelings (but when you wake up, recall the “Danish cartoons” book (censored by Yale U. Press), where the “riots” took place many months after the cartoons were published). Sweet dreams, Dima.