Thursday, 13 September 2012 17:13

How Christian and Muslim Fundamentalists Together Ignited Libya, Egypt

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As events in Libya and Egypt demonstrate, it is time to call out fundamentalists – Muslim, Christian, and Jews – who profess to be God’s people while stoking hatred and death.

If we drop religious nomenclatures, here is what is left. Fundamentalists of one religion created a fourteen minute video – a “trailer” for an alleged movie – provocatively slandering the founder of a rival religion. Then, they posted it on YouTube.

An actress starring in the film claims she was deliberately misled. As she told the New York Times, “When I looked at the trailer, it was like nothing we had done. There was not even a character named Muhammed in what we originally put together.”

Originally called “Desert Warriors,” the video was supposed to depict ancient desert life. Instead, it was a screed bashing a rival religion.

Put yourself, for a moment, in the shoes of the actress. Like countless others she was looking for legitimate work. Landing this role surely must have seemed like celebration time. No wonder, then, she exclaimed that she was duped and angry – not to mention that she now fears for her life. Imagine if this had happened to you.

Still, the damage might have been limited. Despite American fundamentalist promotion, the video remained obscure for months. More hype was needed – including translation into Arabic to incite its target audience.

Just who translated the video remains unknown. What is known is that one of the film’s consultants, a California insurance salesman named Steve Klein, has a son who was severely wounded in the American war on Iraq – a war launched under equally false pretenses by President George W. Bush.

Klein is notorious for his involvement with anti-Muslim actions, including a weekly “Christian” radio broadcast in the Middle East. And after having allegedly lied to actors involved in the film, Klein went one step further. He deceptively renamed his video “Innocence of Muslims,” apparently hoping his peaceful title would lure in other innocents.

Still, a way was needed to get the word out among Muslim fundamentalists. Enter Al Qaeda and Salafists recruits, who needed a good propaganda tool – especially since attacks on Americans in Libya had roused mostly apathy among citizens who remember America’s role in overthrowing Qadafi.

This video was tailor made to their needs. Had Muslim and Christian fundamentalists worked hand in hand, they would have had a hard time coming up with something better. So, in what businessmen might call cross-promotion, Muslim fundamentalists spread the word about this Christian fundamentalist video. And Hollywood, with its multi-million dollar promotional budgets, could not have been more successful.

As word spread, the video scored over one million hits. The results were just as predictable as shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater.

Amid the smoke, Muslim fundamentalists launched an apparently planned military attack. Four American diplomats were murdered, including our popular ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, who had helped overthrow the Libyan dictator.

American fundamentalists lit the match and tossed that match into the pile. Libyan (and other Arab) fundamentalists fanned the flame as cover for their planned 9/11 attack. The two groups had worked hand in hand to create this result.

Nor did it end there. The Republican candidate for President, whose base is disproportionately fundamentalist and fearful of a certain “secret Muslim” criticized American officials in Libya for trying to tamp down the flames. “We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others,” they posted on Twitter, six hours before rioting started. American officials had reaffirmed not just the American, but the universal right to free speech - while also throwing water on the provocative flame ignited by American fundamentalists. Isn’t that their job?

In other circumstances, such a disclaimer might have put out the fire. But neither Muslim nor Christian fundamentalists wanted peace – and they have been increasingly skilled in getting what they wanted.

The result was made to order for Republican Presidential challenger Mitt Romney, many of whose supporters annually decry an alleged secular “War on Christmas.” Better not to think about how they would they react if Muslim fundamentalists created a video depicting Jesus as a child molester, posted it on the internet in English and then fanned the flames.

“Apology for America’s values is never the right course,” pronounced Mitt Romney. Really, Mitt? Since when has bashing another’s religion – say Mormonism - become “America’s values?”

The rioting in Libya, Egypt and Yemen is not a Muslim vs. Christian battle. Nor is it a battle between Arabs and Americans. This is a war launched by fundamentalists, hoping the flames will envelop the rest of us.

And this deliberate war launched amid deception and fanned by fanaticism is what the we need to respond to. How? A good start would be each of us calling out those not in the other religion but in our own religion – our supposed allies - who deceptively throw matches while proclaiming their innocence and godliness. It is time for us to say they are not men and women of God. Perhaps, in fact, they are from the other side.

By Joseph Hanania, Aslan Media Columnist
*Photo Credit: Rowan El Shimi
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