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Sofia Hashi | Fulcrum Staff

SURPRISE, SURPRISE, THE Middle East is making headlines once again. Except this time there’s no uprising, revolts, or overthrown leaders being talked about. By now most people will have heard of the anti-Islam movie Innocence of Muslims that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula wrote, directed, and produced under the pseudonym Sam Becile. The film, chock full of B-list actors, depicts Prophet Muhammad pbuh and Islam in a hateful and monstrous way, demonizing the religion practiced by millions throughout the world.

The film, which was broadcast on the Egyptian television station Al-Nas TV, resulted in revolts and protests in both Libya and Egypt. It is reported that on Sept. 11, these demonstrations took an awful turn and resulted in the tragic death of U.S. ambassador John Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

The outcry against Islam, a religion of peace, has been astonishing, to say the least. As an American-Canadian Muslim, I was shocked to read the reactions from columnists, journalists, religious leaders, and the average online commentator.

Comments like “i will show respect for islam and their book of lies the very second i see a moderate muslim stand up to those who are carrying out the violence. until then they are all the same and their religion is filled with hate [sic],” and “Just more Islamic nonsense…when will they all disappear?” littered the Internet. Condemning all Muslims around the world for supposedly not being able to take a joke, or not understanding freedom of expression is shocking, to put it simply.

The problem here is not with Islam. The crux of the issue lies in the massive culture clash between the West and the East.

Those who say that Muslims need to lighten up and not be so defensive over Prophet Muhammad pbuh clearly know nothing about how Islam is practiced. The main division between Shia and Sunni Muslims comes from the interpretation over the legacy of Muhammad pbuh. As well, the objections to the video were not over its criticism, but its mockery and humiliation.

Demanding Muslims to step up and condemn the acts of the extremists, as many Internet commentators have done, is ridiculous. Of course, what happened to John Christopher Stevens is a tragedy, whether or not it was linked to the viral video. My heart and prayers go out to the Stevens family and the families of the other three Americans killed in the attack. But does anyone demand Christians or Jews apologize for the deranged individuals of their faith who commit violent and atrocious acts? Did anyone apologize for Anders Behring Breivik, before he was found to be psychologically ill? No, no one did. People like that are viewed as sick individuals and nothing more; they aren’t terrorists, just people who committed heinous crimes. But people still continue to generalize Muslims, condemning the many for the actions of a few.

The problem here is freedom of expression and how it is interpreted in other nations. Clearly, people living in regimes in which speaking ill about their leaders is forbidden won’t understand how a movie like Innocence of Muslims can be made without approval from the state. Cue the protests and the demonstrations.

As an American-Canadian Muslim, I believe peaceful protests should be allowed in a free and democratic society. As Voltaire once said, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” Freedom of expression is a cornerstone of our society. What’s happening here is a massacre of Islam through words. Condemning a religion and those who practice it is just as ignorant as those who hold violent and brutal demonstrations over a stupid video made by a stupid individual.