(11e) Pictures became idols for which people killed and died.
Recently, again, some people showed themselves from their smallest side: a few Americans published a video of which they knew some people of the targeted religion would regard it as insulting and become angry and aggressive. In France, a newspaper published in the name of press freedom some cartoons that they knew would be considered insulting to the Islam and its followers; as a result the French government had to remove the freedom to protest and show disapproval for fear of violence.
Here I will argue why I think this has nothing to do with press freedom but simply with racism. But of course, the people who agree to become angry with what those racists publish also show themselves from their smallest side by killing innocent people and during the violence they may become a victim themselves (and Gods say that those who want to die for Gods are allowed doing so). Unfortunately, many innocent people die as well in those attacks. And then there are good politicians and others (the opportunists).
SituationSome people made an extremely bad video about the Prophet Muhammad (I saw a little and the acting was awful), and suddenly worldwide people started dying, first four Americans in Libya, amongst them Ambassador Chris Stevens who, we are told, months before helped Libyans to liberate themselves from a dictator, and later also in other countries. Then a French newspaper published cartoons further insulting Islam and its followers. As a result, French journalists left some areas in the Middle East because they feared an angry reaction and thus fewer if any journalists are left in certain areas while staff at Embassies find it more difficult to work and at some places only the minimum staff is kept. This leaves the people in those countries very vulnerable as fewer if any observers are left; although if the people would disregard the extremists, fewer would have to fear for their life. Thus, in the name of press freedom, free press and freedom of movement (e.g. people travel to those regions to discover the people and their culture and thus unite) are reduced while people are dying.
President Barack Obama.Mr Barack Obama, President of the USA, proved himself a good president. He responded in a balanced way to the violence and gave a good speech at the UN; it is difficult to understand why it doesn't touch some people. Indeed, he condemned the killing of the Ambassador and three other members of his staff as well as the violence that erupted in many countries killing many people. But, he also condemned the making of the video. He expressed his respect for Islam (probably Christian extremists will see this as another example President Obama is not a Christian but a Muslim and thus condemn him for it) and for people of all convictions and said the video was not something most Americans agreed with, but he also said he would do everything in his power to find the killers. He reaches out to all people to unite while warning those who want to divide.
Because, indeed they are nothing more than murderers and thus they should face their punishment. The only problem is to catch them without hurting innocent people because otherwise the mass will turn against the US and more generally against the West. And then the extremists win: those who made the video and those who killed for it. Mrs Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State, also condemned the video. She too spoke about respect for Islam and Muslims but also condemned the making of the video. Both the President and the Secretary of State try to convince the Muslim world America wants peace.
But at the same time they say that democracy is not simply being able to vote during elections but also about respect for others, for women, for minority groups (I am convinced extremists from all religions will not agree) and for the right of free press. However, I do not agree when the President includes the right to insult in all occasions, joking he is insulted on a daily basis, because insults sometimes result in people committing suicide or taking revenge (e.g. killing fellow students), but in most cases result in people who are damaged and feel insecure for the rest of their life. If the President is insulted during meetings, the person is removed; if Mr Obama really defended the freedom to insult he should allow the person to continue insulting him while the whole world can see. He would also have difficulties if people would insult his family, although some do.
Mr Mitt Romney.And then there is Mr Mitt Romney, a politician who wants to become president of the US. What a difference with the President. At least the Americans can't say all politicians are the same. He condemned the attacks (would any normal person say otherwise?) while he thinks that President Obama's statement after the violence erupted was akin to an apology adding that it is a terrible course to apologise for American values.
What American values? Does he mean the right to insult others and their belief? I doubt Mr Romney likes it when others ridicule him and his beliefs. Trying to calm people is wrong? How can one explain why it is wrong to kill if people are not first calmed?
I have the impression Mr Romney speaks as a Christian who thinks his religion is better than that of Muslims. In doing so, he alienates a large proportion of the American people and the world. On the other hand, he tries to win the support of another fraction of society, i.e. Jews by going to Israel and claiming Jerusalem has to become the recognised capital of Israel and not longer Tel Aviv. He also claims Palestinians do not want peace while he seems to forget the reason of the conflict (after WWII and up to these days, many Palestinians lost their home and belongings). He calls President Obama weak on Iran because the President first wants to use diplomacy because war should only be the last resource, after all talks fail and threats continue to increase. Thus it seems his foreign affairs policy may be directed against Muslims.
Not only on religious matters, but also on other matters it seems he only speaks for a fraction of the American people. At a private meeting he said that about half of the Americans will never vote for him because they are lazy people who believe they are victims and live from benefits and thus vote for Mr Obama (thus indirectly suggesting President Obama is a socialist who helps weak people in society, an insult in the US). Of course people should try to find a job. But why do people sometimes refuse jobs? Because some jobs are so poorly paid while quite dangerous or dirty that most people don't want that type of job (except immigrants who find they should not complain about the work their new found country gives them). When these jobs would be better paid and work conditions better, more people may want to do them. Of course, one could (as (some) very rich people suggest) also reduce or stop the benefits and force people to do poorly paid and/or dangerous jobs, just during an economical recession when many people loose their job. It may never come into Mr Romney's mind there is not enough work for everyone, and instead of working longer hour for the same wages (and thus less people are needed), work should be shared and then the workload can also go down. Again, President Obama is for all people (although some disagree): he finds one takes a little from those earning millions to use the money for stimulating the economy.
Since the previous elections when the Tea Party was discovered by some as an important force if you want to be elected, many Republicans stopped every effort of the President to stimulate the economy by increasing investment (this cost tax payer's money), thus companies continued to fail and people continued to loose their work and thus they were less able to buy and stimulate the economy and so, via taxes, less invested money returned to the government to be reinvested. The Tea Party was also the beginning of more religion in politics. But because people voted for the Republicans after Mr Obama became president, although they knew about the more hardline policies of the Republicans, President Obama no longer had a majority in Parliament and this made it more difficult to govern, certainly when confronted with politicians who hoped he would fail so they can regain power. Therefore, I think the President should not only campaign for being elected as a president, but also tell the people that, in order to make the changes they want, he needs them to vote for Democrats so he regain the majority in both Houses. Even friends of America start to fear the Republicans, such as the Australian deputy prime minister Wayne Swan who warned of the "cranks and crazies" in the Republican Party who endanger the world economy.
If you add all the above together, Mr Romney should only appeal to a very small fraction of the Americans (i.e. wealthy white Christians), so why is he still so close with the President in opinion polls?
Videomakers and publishers of cartoons.What do I think are the real reasons why the video or cartoons were published? Is it really because these people find freedom of press and expression so important? I do not think so unless you accept their freedom of expression. I fear it has more to do with being racist, and thus this should be punished.
Don't understand me wrong, there are evil Muslims in the world, and many of these claim to speak with knowledge. This may anger many Muslims but it is a fact many important members of their communities are evil and killed innocent Westerners (e.g. 9/11 in America), while many Muslims over the world celebrated these attacks, and thus many Westerners became angry whereby these Muslims forgot extremists also kill other Muslims. But it is equally true that many Christians and other religious extremists want to destroy other religions.
The real problem is they want power and as long as people are willing to give them power (because extremists bring fear into people as they claim to speak for God), and certainly when times go wrong, the extremists may continue gaining power, and otherwise they gain it with violence.
The video was not about informing people about wrongs in the Muslim world and defend press freedom, it was to insult people of another religion as they insult everyone who is different from them. They probably hoped for an angry reaction. While many journalists (mainly from tabloids, those who try to influence people to think like them) defended the right to publish the video, media responded differently years ago when Geert Wilders published a video on the internet about the Islam. He is a Dutch politician, leader of the Dutch rightwing "Party of Freedom". It now seems his video was condemned because Mr Wilders is a politician and other politicians and voters wanted to ridicule him in the hope he would loose votes. But his video mentions that Islam encourages—among other things—acts of terrorism, antisemitism, violence against women, violence and subjugation of "infidels" and against homosexuals and Islamic universalism (see Wikipedia). And many of these things are correct, but many people reacted against his movie because of the way he portrayed Islam, only negatively. So why can't media condemn this newly published video? Because the message is not from a politician?
How to publish about Islam?If the filmmakers were serious concerning misbehaviour in Islam, why did they have to portray the religion in that way? Or why did they not make a film about the wrongs in their own religion? Many things go wrong in Christianity, such as Churches protesting against human rights for everyone, or trying to prevent young people get science classes. The people making those videos about Islam could have spoken about a certain subject, i.e. terrorism, and they could have shown more than one meaning, i.e. some Muslim agree with the terrorism while many condemn it, and they could inform why there is so much anger in the Muslim world.
These filmmakers could also have made a video about positive things in Islam, such as the beautiful buildings and their great history or about the integration of Muslims in societies. Thus not only speak about negative things.
But they decided to ridicule the religion. They understood that making that video would cause anger amongst Muslims, and this would increase the fear within their own communities for Muslims, increasing the likelihood people would turn back upon their own community and vote for parties such as the Tea Party or Republicans in America or other rightwing parties in the rest of the world. Of course, the reaction of many Muslims didn't help as the reactions confirmed what rightwing Christians and Jews claim about Muslims.
Are Christians any better than Muslims? No!!! Many Christians are angry when they are not allowed to wear a cross, just as Muslims are angry when they are not allowed to wear a headscarf, while they ridicule each other for the worship of their religious symbol. What happened after Monty Python made "The Life of Brian"? Christians were angry because they claim their faith and thus themselves were ridiculed. Jews and Muslims united in their anger against a decision by the German High Court to forbid circumcision of boys until boys would reach the age they can made the decision for themselves. Also other people protested while they disagree with the circumcision of girls, but I wonder what is the difference as in both cases pieces of meat are cut away although less with boys? Or Christian newborn children are baptised against their will and this is almost impossible to undo (although the German churches now decided that those who don't pay are not worth being saved, therefore not paying money is the best way to leave the church. Probably the church still thinks we live in the Middle Ages when people paid to remove their sins while they refuse to reflect why people leave, otherwise they would understand it is because of the evil of some priests towards children while the higher hierarchy covered it). And what about those people who do not want to belong to their religious group? They get the accusation they deny their origins, while it may simply be they don't want to belong to a system that is corrupt and intolerant towards other human beings.
ExtremistsThe problem is that religious people are loosing their grip on society in many parts of the world. People don't need religion anymore or see the evil in them and turn away from it although they should also acknowledge the good many religious people have done and still do.
Many people have gay friends who, like everyone else, want to marry while religious people claim all gay people are evil and want to destroy families. Many people have friends from other religions while people from their own religion tell them the "others" are bad. People who are open for others experience often that those "others" are also fellow humans. And thus people decide for themselves who they consider good and bad and no longer need religions to decide for them.
I do not like extremists. Because those people think they are the only people with knowledge over good and bad. And because they speak in God's name, they scare people who believe gods exist into following them. It is unbelievable that many of those people, some of them read on a daily basis their Holy Book, don't see gods warn them against following the wrong people.
The pope called in Lebanon to stop extremism. Then, I wonder, why does he appoint each time religious extremists? He can be quite moderate e.g. when he said the use of condoms may be acceptable in certain circumstances; then quickly the Church almost excused itself for his statement, probably not to upset their own religious extremists. These extremists start even to undermine their own pope as we could read in the Vatican-leaks. He should have known that those who give power to evil will fall by it when there are enough evil people in power.
People who follow extremists may one day be killed by them. Women who are on the streets to call for the killing of the filmmakers may one day feel the anger of those they helped to gain power. Because women should know by now that religious extremists don't have mercy for women. The same in Pakistan where some people are angry with ministers and celebrate their killing because they call for the removal of blasphemy laws while those people celebrate ministers who want to pay those who kill the filmmakers. These people should realise that maybe one day they become victims of blasphemy laws and will be killed, although they defended those laws. People who allow the killing of people who defend human rights while protect those who kill always play dangerous games and they should be careful never to become the enemy of those who kill.
But I feel sorry for people who don't support extremists but become their victims. I don't mind extremists and their supporters killing each other, but they also kill innocent people. And thus, in the end, more and more people will turn against extremists and their religion and wipe them of the planet. Because people see that extremists destroy, even religious buildings of their own faith as they claim the "wrong" Mosques were built (as happened in Egypt and Mali). The sad thing is that extremists of all religions destroy as they hate everything. The only positive thing (if one can call that positive) is that wherever they went nothing is left and thus no-one has to kill to defend their past or religion. But what a cost if all history is gone to gain peace.