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Opinion

Why we should react to anti-Muslim film

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September 20, 2012

Last week, on September 11, in Egypt and Libya protestors gathered near U.S. Embassies. They were protesting the YouTube video, “Innocence of Muslims,” a video that spews stereotypical rhetoric concerning Islam and insults the Prophet Muhammad. The California produced video was reported by a controversial news person in the Middle East who reported that “Innocence of Muslims” was a full length movie that the American public would view on the anniversary of 9/11.

The outrage that started in Egypt, spread throughout North Africa, the Middle East and to Indonesia, is more complex than just violent protests. This “Arab Fall” is a result of the Arab Spring, a test for the new democratic governments and their people.

To understand the protestors’ reaction, one must look at the government that the majority of the protestors have lived under for the bulk of their lives. The dictatorship regimes that the protestors have recently released themselves from controlled many aspects of their lives, most importantly the media. No movie, video or newscast could have been released without being screened by the government. Freedom of speech did not exist.

Only recently have these persons had the chance to experience and experiment with freedom of speech. However, their perception that government controls everything is still an important part of their thinking.

The conception that somebody can produce and advertise whatever they choose seems as unreal to the protestors as being completely controlled by the government seems to us. They are reacting as if our federal government abetted the video, thus that we support the producer’s values.

Does this mentality condone their reaction? No. However, our reaction as a nation and government could potentially set a tone that could either destroy or help our relationships in the Middle East.

Should we stick to our values or apologize? I say neither; we should educate our public as well as the vast Muslim public about where we stand. One must remember that Islam is the second largest religion in the world. By making a condemning comment or insulting video, we not only isolate and offend that group of people, but we isolate ourselves as well. The world is interconnected, our embassies, our citizens, our interests-government or corporate- are across the world. We cannot risk offending these people by mishandling these demonstrations.

As these protests are being looked into, hopefully a solution can be found that can quell these protests.

Katrinna Dodge is a freshman and is majoring in history. She works part time at a Kwik Trip in River Falls.