A deranged individual in California produced a deliberately provocative — and very stupid — film that aimed to ridicule the Prophet Muhammad.
Time Magazine has described the 14-minute video as “confoundingly awful, filled with incongruous accents, ludicrous dialogue and green screen so bad that the actors (whose original dialogues were removed and dubbed after the film was shot) appear to be floating in the air.”
The film hardly got any attention until an Islamophobic Egyptian American Coptic Christian, a right-wing fundamentalist pastor and a TV host promoted it online. Muslims worldwide took their anger out at American and other Western embassies.
The American ambassador to Libya was killed — though it is now emerging that his assassination was not directly linked to the film. The US government has distanced itself from the film, and even requested the Google-owned YouTube to take it down.
YouTube agreed to prevent online access to the film in hotspots such as Libya, Egypt, India and Indonesia, but the company cited freedom of expression as the reason why it could not remove access to the film in the rest of the world.
In its defence, YouTube claimed that the company encourages everyone’s right to express unpopular points of view and that the film did not represent hate speech, which it defines as “content that promotes hatred against members of a protected group.”
Now imagine if a deranged individual in the Middle East produced an anti-Semitic film that depicted Jews in a negative light.
Would the film be allowed to be aired in a world where Jewishness is sacrosanct?
Wouldn’t there be outrage in the Western world? Wouldn’t YouTube remove it on the basis that it promoted hatred? Wouldn’t Mossad track down that individual and even plan an assassination? Probably.
And the world would support these actions, because there are some lines that should not be crossed in the name of freedom of expression.
The point I am trying to make is that the standards applied to certain groups and religions are often ignored when it comes to other groups and religions.
I personally think that the person who made the film that caused so much mayhem is not worth the trouble.
He is obviously in need of serious psychological counselling. By taking his film seriously, Muslims around the world are giving him the kind of recognition he is craving for and clearly doesn’t deserve.
Freedom of expression has been used as an excuse to commit all kinds of atrocities. It is the kind of argument that pornographers use when they air or publish material that depicts women as sexual objects.
I have, in the past, argued that pornography is a crime against women, and should be banned. It should be accorded the same status as child pornography and anti-Semitism because pornography dehumanises the sexual act and promotes hatred against a segment of society, namely women.
Pornography is also a kind of drug. Those addicted to it report wanting higher doses of it to satisfy their addiction.
Incidentally, boys and men in India and Pakistan are among the largest consumers of pornography; these countries also have the highest incidences of “honour killings” of women.)
Interestingly, a few days after the violent protests in the Muslim world, the French magazine, Closer, published a series of photos of Britain’s Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, sunbathing topless.
The British royals were furious and said they would sue the magazine for invasion of privacy. Yet bare breasts are hardly a novelty in the Western world. Every corner shop in Europe and the US openly sells magazines depicting women in some state of nakedness.
Access to this type of soft pornography is viewed almost as a birth right in these countries. Strangely, in the same countries, women who are fully covered are perceived as oppressed.
The Western world is rightly outraged by the invasion of the British royal’s privacy by the French magazine, but is quick to cite freedom of expression when a mentally unstable person produces and airs an anti-Islam film. What hypocrisy!