I could just link to this post by Charles Mudede of Seattle’s Pulitzer-winning alt-weekly The Stranger, but I think it might be worth reposting here:
Why are Arab and African Muslims so upset about that dumb video? I got this answer from a Coptic Eritrean who is a marine biologist by training but makes a living as a taxi driver:
“Before coming to America I lived in Saudi Arabia and other countries in North Africa. And what I can tell you is this: The people in these countries, and also countries in East Africa, cannot believe that people in America actually speak for themselves and not for the government. Why? Because what they have seen all their lives is only the government speaking. When something is on TV, it is the government speaking. When something is in the newspapers, it is the government speaking. You see what I mean? Something on the internet, it is the government speaking again. The government never allows anyone else to speak. So they think it is the same in America. That video about their prophet doing very bad, very evil things? That has to be the government speaking. So they go to the American embassy and try to burn it to the ground. They just can’t believe a person can actually speak for themselves and not be in trouble with the government. This is what is going on.”
That is probably true in some places.However that is not the reason for the rioting and the anti USA demos. The main reason is that leaders, with their own ax to grind, fire up emotional people, to take such actions. In the third world countries such demonstrations can easily be manipulated to turn violent. Interestingly, such ‘firing up emotional people’ business is not conducted only in the Muslim countries. It happens in the USA too. The difference is that the usually people do not riot themselves but force the government to take action e.g. Mitt Romney fires up people, people force the govt. to go and bomb Libya.
Very insightful remark , in many Islamic countries a great religion is being misunderstood and misinterpreted!
Maybe I was surprised of the reaction against the United States. I did not understand at first the reasone behind anger against the United States. Although I am an Arab Muslim. Although I do not follow the conspiracy theory, but we have to take advantage of some happenings in history to offend Islam. In 2006 I was living in Syria. In that year emerged Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. The Syrian government at the time to facilitate the arrival of protesters into the European embassies.It’s also hired some mercenaries to burn european embassies.I had a question I ask myself always. Why Syrian government do this. When it sould be a secular government.i’ve Reached the answer after a while. The Syrian government wants to deliver a message to the world. This is an alternative for our government. Islamist extremists will rule this country.
Even in the U.S.—there are exceptions to free-speech (under law) such as defamation, obscenity, incitement to crime…etc…..
Some U.S. judge banned protests at soldiers funerals because it “hurts the feelings of the families”
Some U.S. college students were jailed because they protested a speech by Israeli Ambassador…..