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In August, the British Islam community reacted in shock when a 14 minute trailer for a film called the 'Innocence of Islam,'depicted their prophet Muhammad as a womaniser, a religious fraud and a child molester. But what is more shocking is the levels of violence that has erupted in the Middle-East as a result of the video.
It is true that this trailer could fuel more ignorance in people who discriminate unfairly against Muslims. The internet, however, is full of that type of unfortunate prejudice anyway so these ignoramuses would have found articles or even other videos that vindicate their racism in their own minds without this video.
I hope people realise that free speech is wonderful when there is nothing attacking it and certainly more difficult when it needs to be defended. To be pulled back by the ignorant acts of others must never distinguish the power of freedom at large
It is only because this short film has been given such huge publicity that it is considered so offensive. The ‘Cartoon Wars’ episodes of the television show South Park, for example, could have been reacted to in exactly the same way but this must have been missed by the violent protestors. Either that or they deemed it not worthy of rioting over as it is an intelligent mockery of topics like this one, though I find it hard to believe that these people, who claim to be followers of Islam despite their contradictory violent approaches, are interested in whether something is intelligent or not as a reason to riot.
One of the key issues of this whole unfortunate situation is the right to free speech and this is highlighted in those episodes of South Park. Just as the Muslims have the right to peacefully protest against this sort of prejudice, the video’s creators have the right to make the trailer or even the whole film. It may be inappropriate and it may be unfunny but it is up us as a society to highlight these videos as the perverse nonsensical discrimination that they are. This can be achieved perfectly without violence and by just ignoring stupidity like this video’s creators have demonstrated by making it.
Of course the further tragic irony is that Islamic papers in the middle east constantly make anti-Semitic and anti Christian remarks, yet you don't see similar violent protests, nor even for the most part a complaint. The reactions are simply outrageous! There is literally no defence for the extreme reactions from certain quarters of the world. Notably the head of Transport in Pakistan, has openly placed a bounty on the creators!
Fortunately, the vast majority of Muslims in this country are intelligent enough to realise that this is nothing more than a video that is just not funny. It is, however, the video’s creators’ right to free speech so I applaud YouTube’s decision to not take down the video. The creators need to be educated by society that this sort of discrimination is unacceptable. But so should the protestors realise that their kinds of reactions are categorically unjustified. Like the Dutch Cartoon catastrophe people have been killed as a result.
However I hope people realise that free speech is wonderful when there is nothing attacking it and certainly more difficult when it needs to be defended. To be pulled back by the ignorant acts of others must never distinguish the power of freedom at large.
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