The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Students debate causes of situation in Middle East

Democrat

With the string of recent violent outbreaks in Middle Eastern countries, including the suicide bombing Tuesday morning in Kabul, Afghanistan, and the murder of American Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, we have to ask ourselves: Why is all of this violence occurring?

Following the ambassador’s death last week, it was speculated that the violent protest was a reaction to the release of a YouTube clip for an anti-Islam film called Innocence of Muslims, in which the Prophet Muhammad is severely derided. Indeed, Hizb-i-Islami claimed responsibility for the Kabul bombing as a reaction to the film.

The film was produced by Egyptian-American Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a felon who was detained by American federal authorities over the weekend for questioning regarding probation violations. The film depicts the prophet as “a fool, a philanderer and a religious fake” according to Reuters, and his followers as “savage killers hungry for wealth and bent on killing women and children,” according to BBC. This film is deliberately offensive, and was contrived to incite rage in the hearts of Muslims worldwide.

In many sects of Islam it is considered a sin to visually depict any of the prophets – especially Muhammad – because it is consonant with idolatry. Thus, to portray the prophet so egregiously is clearly an attack on Islam. As such, this film is an artifact of hatred, one which Salman Rushdie, author of the controversial 1988 novel The Satanic Verses, has labeled “outrageous and unpleasant and disgusting.”

YouTube itself has been shut down in several countries, including Bangladesh and Pakistan, in an effort to prevent acts of violence. The White House requested Google, the parent company of YouTube, to pull the video, which it refused. This film is just the latest in a growing series of attacks on Islam through consciously offensive portrayals of the prophet. In 2005, a Danish newspaper published a series of cartoons in which the prophet was depicted as a supporter of terrorism. In 2007, Swedish artist Lars Vilks unveiled a series of drawings depicting the prophet as a dog. And on May 20, 2010 an “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” event was hosted on the Internet.

Gov. Mitt Romney has unjustly accused the president of not protecting our foreign nationals and even taking sides against them with hostile governments. This is blatantly false. Our government does indeed protect our embassies while maintaining diplomatic relations with the countries in which they are located – as it always has done. This is the point of foreign diplomacy. Whenever the political situation of a country develops such that the safety of our ambassadors is at risk, we evacuate them – which is what we tried to do for Ambassador Stevens. Unfortunately, the protesters – who acted independent of the Libyan government – got to him first.

It is shameful of Gov. Romney to pervert the memory of an American civil servant in order to seek a cheap lead over the incumbent president. The recent acts of violence are, of course, the fault of the protesters themselves. However, we would be remiss to not admonish the antecedent of these hostilities: Mr. Nakoula. Indeed, his deliberate acts of hatred toward Islam directly accomplice him in the 28 deaths which have followed the posting of his film.

Nakoula’s film is the cause of this violence in the Middle East and must be rebuked. It is not free speech. It is hate speech. As Nakoula intended, his hate has fanned the flames of unrest.

Welch is a sophomore majoring in accounting.

Republican

Currently, there are two schools of thought as to what the root cause behind the embassy attack is, namely the one in Libya.

According to the US ambassador to the United Nations, this attack on the American consulate “was spontaneous, not a premeditated response to what happened in Cairo.” This is in sharp contrast to the views expressed by the Libyan president Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf who told CBS’s Face the Nation that “the way these perpetrators acted, and moved…and they’re choosing the specific date for this so-called demonstration … this leaves us with no doubt that this was pre-planned, determined … pre-determined.”

Obviously, the man who is the president of Libya would have more insight as to the probable cause of the attacks, but there appears to have been a breakdown in communication between him and the United States.

Pretending the attacks in Libya and the rest of the Middle East were the result of a movie offending the Muslim community is an insult to the memory of those who lost their lives on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 in Benghazi.

Additionally, it is offensive to the Muslim community, which is being painted as irrational and violent by this allegation. This was a small faction of the Muslim community that sought to carry out a coordinated attack on the United States.

It has been speculated that this attack was in response to the United States killing Libyan al Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al-Libi.. Furthermore, according to an al Qaeda statement released in the Islamic Mahgreb, “We encourage all Muslims to continue to demonstrate and escalate their protests … and to kill their (American) ambassadors and representatives or to expel them to cleanse our land from their wickedness” and went on to say that the murder of ambassador Stevens was “the best gift you (can) give to his arrogant and unjust administration.”

Politics aside, this administration’s responsibility, first and foremost, in response to this act is to see justice served and to present a stronger front in regards to foreign policy. From the above statements, it is obvious that these people have no respect for the United States or the sanctity of human life. It is of paramount importance that this be remembered when dealing with them, as they are not likely to cease their violence against those they deem ‘wicked’ unless swift and forceful action is taken. President Barack Obama need only look back thirty years to Ronald Reagan for guidance in a very similar foreign policy debacle, lest he be the Carter to Romney’s Reagan. Luckily, unlike in the 1980s the United States would not be up against a dictator and his country, but rather a small terrorist group looking to incite carnage and chaos.

As has been seen in the days since the attacks, the Libyans and the Muslim community in general do not wish Christians or the United States harm and have disparaged the violence carried out under the guise of religious fury. It would be prudent for the Obama administration to acknowledge this as the work of a terrorist group, seek justice accordingly and not shy away from confronting the problem for fear of offending Muslims.

These could very well be Obama’s last few months in office. How he chooses to handle this crisis could make or break him in not only the election, but also in how history will remember him. The United States is always fearful of losing ground to other countries economically, but to shirk away from taking a firm hand in the Middle East now would do nothing but to further denigrate the American reputation of being a world power house.

Dunn is a junior majoring in political science.
 

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