Engineered Anger and Outrage?

News from the BBC today on another case of “Muslim outrage” drew a bit of a knee-jerk from me (“Muslims offended over a triviality. Gee, that’s a first”), but when I stopped and thought about it, I began to wonder if I was being fair. So, being a curious kind of guy, I thought I’d examine the issue a bit.

Today’s story is fairly typical of the genre: Person does something largely harmless / a little bit humorous but somehow connected to Islam, Muslim Outrage™ ensues.

In this case, Naguib Sawiris (a very rich Christian from Egypt) Tweeted some cartoons of Micky and Minnie Mouse in conservative Muslim garb (Micky robed and bearded, Minnie in a Niqab with just her eyes showing). Cue howls of anger from high profile Muslims, formation of facebook groups calling for a boycott of his company, grovelling apology, etc. etc. I should say at this point that I searched at length for these cartoons so that I could repost them here, but I’ve so far been unable to find them anywhere.

Reading around various media reports on this story, it’s easy to get the impression that the response to this “incident” (for want of a better word) is a general Muslim one, but if you dig a little deeper it seems like the screaming and shouting in Egypt is being orchestrated by the Salafi minority. Salafi are an ultra-orthodox group who reject all religious debate, claiming that religious matters are beyond debate or apologetics because the Q’ran says so. If it’s in the Q’ran, it’s literally true, and that’s the bottom line, ‘cos Stone Cold Mo said so; they reject any form of politics but Islamic theocracy, and any form of law but Sharia.

But are they a true reflection of Islam in Egypt? This is where things get a little tricky. An Embassy report from 2009 which was released during the Wikileaks deluge says that this ultra-conservatism is on the rise, and it’s true that (not surprisingly in a majority Muslim country) there are serious social inequalities, but it should also be noted that of senior management level employees in Egypt, 25% are women (or were prior to the Arab Spring; it gets hard to find stats after that). That doesn’t speak of a nation in thrall to extremists – in fact, it’s significantly higher than the USA could boast as of 2009, that figure being a pretty paltry 14.7%.

So, to wrench this ramble back on course, are media reports portraying general Muslim outrage over yet another triviality a fair and accurate reflection? In truth, I don’t really know – But the balance of evidence suggests that it’s probably not.

Over to you, UFers. What do you think of Islamic reaction to things like this, and how it’s portrayed. Better yet, are you in Egypt? Is it the powder-keg we’re lead to believe? I’d love to hear from you.

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