While most of the world was busy yesterday remembering the 3,000 people killed in the 9/11 terrorist attacks, another group chose to remember the tragedy rather differently, by attacking US embassies and consulates in Egypt and Libya and setting them on fire.
In Cairo, large crowds of ultra-conservative Islamists gathered outside the US embassy to protest against a film produced in the US which depicts the Islamic prophet Muhammad as a fraud who has tons of sex. Muslims don't tend to like it when you draw pictures of Muhammad doing anything, so the guys in Cairo went pretty nuts about this, just as some of them did when a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Islamic prophet with a bomb strapped to his head in 2005 and someone tried to kill one of the cartoonists with an axe.
Having gathered there yesterday afternoon, the protesters managed to scale the embassy's walls and tear down the American flag, replacing it with the flag of Islam. Fortunately most of the embassy staff had fled and the ambassador was out of town. One of the demonstrators was asked why the protesters had gathered: "This movie must be banned immediately and an apology should be made, this is a disgrace." The film is called Mohammed, Prophet Of All Muslims, is co-produced by some Egyptian Coptic Christians – who frequently have tear-ups with Egyptian Muslims – and is unlikely to help heal the sectarian rift. It's also fucking dreadful.
Not wanting to be outdone by their neighbours, some armed militiamen spent yesterday storming the US consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi and burning it to the ground. It's since been reported that the American ambassador has died in the attack. The militia were then engaged by Libyan security forces and casualties have been reported on both sides.
Benghazi has played host to a number of attacks by conservative Islamic militias on symbols they perceive as being "Western" recently, including the desecration of a British WWiI cemetery and a nearby Jewish memorial, where gavestones were smashed. This attack will fuel speculation that certain parts of Libya have fallen into the hands of Salafist (militant Islamist) militias, who are, unnervingly, armed to the teeth.
The film, that has unserprisingly been made private on youtube, that caused all this commotion also credits the infamous US pastor Terry Jones among its production crew. This is the guy that threatened to burn the Qu'ran, prompting an angry mob to attack a UN building in Afghanistan, killing nine. As if that wasn't enough, Terry thought it would be a good idea to hold a mock trial of Muhammad on the same day as the protests, in which he was pictured wearing a devil mask and hung from the gallows. Why? Well, Terry explains: "Muhammad is charged with promoting murder, rape and destruction of people and property through his writings called the Qu'ran." Which is pretty ironic considering Jones' actions also promote murder and the destruction of people and property. This man is a criminal waste of oxygen.
Although the film is clearly designed to be a red rag to the world's Muslims, the protests are equally as distasteful; both recent revolutions in Egypt and Libya fought for freedom of speech. An unfortunate side-effect of the violent demonstrations is that they give this film far more attention than it really deserves. It also only adds inches to the height of Terry's soapbox – which has proved damaging to Americans in Islam-dominated parts of the world, as the consulate worker would no doubt attest if he weren't currently dead because some idiot decided to make a shitty, unfunny film to piss off a notoriously sensitive group of people.
This report was written in the early hours of Wednesday (Sep 12) morning, so the unpleasantness is sure to develop while the Western world sleeps. How might we placate it? Here's an idea: Why not let Terry Jones travel to Tahrir square in Egypt or Tripoli's Revolution square and play his Qu'ran burning game there? That way it would only be a game in which everyone wins.
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