The Attacks in Libya and Egypt: A Muslim Perspective and More UPDATED

Image credit: AP

Brave words from a brave woman who happens to be my blog neighbor from the Muslim Channel. Here name is Nancy Shehata, and thanks be to God, hear her roar,

Yesterday, U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three of his staff were killed by RPG fire as they tried to leave their embassy.  The crowd outside the embassy there, and another unruly mob outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, were puffed up into a froth by a video, a stupid, useless, anti-Islamic video that had been posted to youtube by fools.  Fools directed by fools.  Someone, some Muslim, some person or people claiming to follow the same religion as I do, fired a rocket into the car to kill a man who had absolutely nothing to do with the video and who would have himself soundly condemned it, had he had the chance.

I am so god damned tired of this.  Sorry, I just can’t find any literary way to put that.  I am so god damned tired of Muslims allowing themselves to be manipulated by a god damned low-budget stupid YOUTUBE VIDEO.  This low-rent video was put together by a few bigoted individuals who should have been ignored.  Instead, they have found fame in infamy.  Their worthless little film was used by “radical Muslims” to pull the strings of ignorant puppets, to whip up a crowd into a frenzied mob, to incite people to murder.  I am shocked but not surprised by the film.  I am horrified and really, really pissed off at my Muslim brothers.

I want to take each person who stood screaming outside of those embassies and shake them.  What are you doing?  Why are you protesting against the entire United States, symbolized by the embassy, for the actions of a few?  Actions that were not known about, were not supported, were not endorsed by the US government or by the vast majority of Americans.  Why are you standing out there screaming, shaking your fists, scrawling “Allahu Akbar” on the walls, burning, tearing, destroying?  Why are you so concerned with one little video?  Don’t you have something more important to do?

Islam does not condone blasphemy against any prophet, be that Muhammad, Moses, or Jesus, peace be upon them all.  As a Muslim, I condemn the people who made or supported this video and ask Allah to guide them or break their backs.  But I have no plans to seek out these fools, or kill any Americans, or Israelis, or anyone else for that matter.  See, I’m kinda busy.  I’m kinda busy working to support my family.  I’m kinda busy teaching my kids to memorize the Qur’an.  I’m kinda busy writing blog posts and articles and teaching people what Islam is all about.  And now I’m MORE busy because I have to take time from teaching what Islam IS to try to convince people of the truth of what Islam is NOT.  Islam is not terrorists crashing planes into skyscrapers.  Islam is not husbands beating wives.  Islam is not RPGs blowing up ambassadors.  How can I get to the IS when I’m so busy with the ISN’T?

Read the whole thing.

There are other Muslim voices of reason speaking out as well. Not so much over in Egypt, and Libya, and Syria, where for some strange reason we are aiding and abetting a liberation of the Muslim Brotherhood, and then wondering “what the hell just happened!” like Steve McQueen at the end of The Sand Pebbles, when it all falls apart. But I’m no Middle East expert, just a guy with a blog.

Here’s a smattering of what I’ve run across so far,

 Sohail Nakhooda posted this statement from Aref Nayed, Former Ambassador of Libya to the UAE, Member of the League of Libyan Ulema:

This is to express my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the late Ambassador Christopher Stevens and his fallen colleagues, and to the American people and government. I had the honor of personally knowing Ambassador Stevens, and witnessed, firsthand, in Benghazi and later in Tripoli, the care and hard work that he devoted to fulfilling his duties towards his country and towards Libya and the Libyan people. He was a man of dedication and honor, and I am shocked and deeply anguished for the loss of a dear friend and supporter of the Libyan people’s struggle against tyranny. Tyranny and darkness may wear a thousand guises, including pseudo-religiosity, but must never deceive us. Islam is a religion of peace and understanding, and Islam’s Prophet (peace be upon him) is the Prophet of Compassion. It is outrageous and totally unacceptable for criminals to kill and destroy in the name of defending Islam and its Prophet (peace be upon him). The criminals who committed this cowardly act must be rigorously pursued and rapidly brought to justice. May this tragic loss make us even more dedicated and determined to building our respective countries, based on the values of dialogue, understanding, and peace.

The Islamic Networks Group released a statement:

Islamic Networks Group (ING) and its Affiliates across the nation condemn in the strongest possible terms the extremist attacks on U.S. diplomatic compounds in Libya and Egypt on Tuesday, September 11th, one of which killed U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stephens along with three of his staff members. The parties responsible for these events in both nations claimed to be reacting to an online film considered offensive to Islam.

As with previous instances of the Danish cartoons or Qur’an burning, it is important to emphasize that it is a greater defamation of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an to react with violence and murder of innocent people– one of the greatest sins in Islam–than any claimed insult from an Islamophobic film. Those who responded in such a manner should instead study the Prophet Muhammad’s example in the face of harm. On a daily basis, Muhammad was exposed to demeaning abuse for 13 years during the early years of his mission. His response was not to return insult for insult or hurt for hurt, but to pray for his persecutors and overlook their insults. In a famous Islamic tradition, he stated: “It is not allowed to cause harm to others or to return harm for harm.”

It is also an Islamic principle that one does not blame or punish another for the crimes of another. The employees at the embassies were in no way responsible for the actions of either Terry Jones or the producers of the film. Such extreme responses, in fact, can only help Islamophobic interests. Such actions and reactions are but a useless cycle of hate that benefit no one and as occurred yesterday, can be potentially dangerous and even deadly.

ING and its Affiliates are committed to upholding the right to freedom of expression and unconditionally condemn any use of violence as a means to protest offensive or hateful speech.  In the United States, this fundamental, inalienable right is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The answer to speech we find deeply offensive is more speech—speech that tells the true story of Islam—not censorship or violence. Acts of violence carried out in the name of Islam are a greater offense against Islam than the content of any film or speech.

ING President Maha Elgenaidi urges both fellow Muslims and fellow Americans to “Work together for a more peaceful world and take this opportunity to redouble efforts towards peace and harmony through increased outreach, dialogue, and understanding.”

For additional insights on the topic of provocative speech and reactions to it, see: Muslim Scholars’ Statement on Danish Cartoons Controversy

Sheikh Yasir Qadhi said:

“Clerics and leaders who instigate Muslims to ‘defend the honor of the Prophet (saw)’ by attacking people who have nothing to do with insulting his honor, actually disrespect the memory of our Prophet (saw).”

Yes, the movie was disgusting, but I’m sure the happiest person today is the person who made it, because his goal of smearing the Muslims has succeeded.

For how long will we tolerate such stupidity?”

ISNA released a statement

As horrific and offensive as the video might be, nothing justifies the sort of violent acts we have heard reported in Egypt and Libya. Already four innocent people have lost their lives in Libya, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, who was a great friend and ally of the Libyan people. As we mourn the loss of these individuals, we call on Muslims across the world not to pay any attention to the voices of extremists such as the ones that created this video. These individuals do not represent our American government—in fact, many of them crudely insult our President more regularly than they insult Muslims—and they do not represent the vast majority of Americans. Our great country guarantees all of its citizens the right to freedom of speech, and unfortunately some use this simply to perpetrate bigotry and hatred. The words of these individuals are intended only to create tension and to solicit violent reactions from Muslims and people of other faiths around the world. It is critical that no one aid them in this task. As American Muslims, we can state with confidence that these individuals hold views which remain on the fringes of our society. The vast majority of Americans and American news outlets completely disregard them, and we urge all people around the world to do the same.

As ISNA President Imam Mohamed Magid stated, “As Muslims, we love our Prophet (peace be upon him) dearly. In the Holy Qur’an, Allah (may He be glorified and exalted) has praised the Prophet (peace be upon him). No video could impact his status in our hearts.”

There are many more quotes like these, courtesy of The American Muslim (TAM) website.

Why won’t folks speak up like this in the Middle East proper? David French has an idea: fear.

In nations where jihadists live, speaking out can mean death.  There were many Iraqi Muslims who hated the jihadists, or “takfiris” as they called them, but until we were able to clear al Qaeda from a village or region, their revulsion was often expressed in hushed whispers.  In a nation like Egypt — dominated as it is by the Muslim Brotherhood — dissent is dangerous.

True story. Also, have a look at Cardinal Dolan’s thought on international religious liberty. You’ll be glad you did.


More brave people say, “This Does Not Represent Us.”

And from the Holy See this morning,

The Holy See Press office director, Fr. Federico Lombardi, issued the following statement to press Thursday morning:

“The very serious attack organised against the United States diplomatic mission in Libya, which led to the death of the ambassador and of other functionaries, calls for the firmest possible condemnation on the part of the Holy See. Nothing, in fact, can justify the activity of terrorist organisations and homicidal violence. Along with our sadness, mourning and prayers for the victims, we again express the hope that, despite this latest tragedy, the international community may discover the most favourable ways to continue its commitment in favour of peace in Libya and the entire Middle East.

Get Religion blog, from September 11, but still worth a look: Righteous Religious Indignation.

Joanne McPortland: The Dance of the Cross and the Crescent.
John Allen: Catholics in Lebanon.
Follow-up post: The Real Culprit Behind the Attacks Across the Islamic World.

  • Mary

    Such a great article. I shared on FB as I believe education is the only hope. We must strive to understand and accept each other. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  • The Crescat

    Eh. I’m not buying it.

    “Islam does not condone blasphemy against any prophet, be that Muhammad, Moses, or Jesus, peace be upon them all. ”

    So where is all the rioting, um-I mean, righteous indignation at all the blasphemies against Jesus?

    • The Crescat

      Noting to add… David French has it right. Fear. Why fear? Because Islam in an inherently violent “religion” to it’s core.

      • Frank Weathers

        You don’t have to buy it. Just remember that Catholicism is just pedophile priests, woman-hating, gay-hating, anti-science, or whatever else the mainstream media portrays it as. Right? Of course not. Stick with the Catechism, and you’ll be on a tough enough road as it is.

        The Church and non-Christians

        839 “Those who have not yet received the Gospel are related to the People of God in various ways.”

        The relationship of the Church with the Jewish People. When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish People,326 “the first to hear the Word of God.”327 The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews “belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ”,328 “for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.”

        840 And when one considers the future, God’s People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.

        841 The Church’s relationship with the Muslims. “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”

        842 The Church’s bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race:

        All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city. . .

        843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as “a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life.”

        844 In their religious behavior, however, men also display the limits and errors that disfigure the image of God in them:

        Very often, deceived by the Evil One, men have become vain in their reasonings, and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and served the creature rather than the Creator. Or else, living and dying in this world without God, they are exposed to ultimate despair.

        845 To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son’s Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is “the world reconciled.” She is that bark which “in the full sail of the Lord’s cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world.” According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah’s ark, which alone saves from the flood.

        Or keep believing the tribalist baloney.

        • The Crescat

          That’s nice. Too bad the respect is not, nor will ever, mutual.

          • Frank Weathers

            Crescat, and this thought of yours is based on your wealth of experience from living in how many Muslim countries? Beware the self-fulfilling prophecy based on biased projections.

      • Walton Wolfe

        Ya know the Bible is violent aswell! Both the Bible and Qu’ran can seem very violent when its all taken Literally…which i dont believe we were intended to do. Radical Muslims are twisting the Qu’ran, just as Radical Christians have at times twisted the words of the Bible. We dont see Radical Christians as much because well…Police, FBI, Police Choppers, Cameras…the Media…they’d literally have no where to hide in the U.S.A…

        • Frank Weathers

          Jimmy Akin started a new series of posts on ">the “Dark Passages” of the Bible (with a little help from Pope Benedict XVI).

          Here’s the second part in the series.

        • Kinana

          This response is too often heard whenever anyone dares make a critical comment about Islam.
          I offer a few points as a brief rebuttal.
          1. ‘The Bible is violent as well’
          This is comment clearly overstates the reality. There are violent passages in the Bible for sure but taken as a whole is the Bible violent? Any open-minded reader would say no. For the Christian, the violence most commented on and depicted is the violence done to Jesus. But WW suggests that the violence in the Bible is equivalent to the violence in the Qur’an. The implied meaning is that the two books encourage the believers to engage in violence as part and parcel of their beliefs. Such a position is clearly refuted by the texts themselves, particularly when one reads the New Testament. A serious comparison of the texts refutes this position of equivalence.
          2. On what basis does WW claim that the Qur’an is not to be taken literally? The Qur’an itself warns against non-literal interpretations. See Qur’an 3:7. According to Allah, those who choose to indulge in allegorical interpretations of the Qur’an are the enemies of faith [i.e. Islam], and the sowers of dissension and discord (fitnah).
          3. WW says ‘radical Muslims are twisting the Qur’an…’ It would be nice to believe him and therefore not blame Islam itself but this is too serious of a topic to play wishful thinking. The radical Muslims who are busy following their beliefs and who ‘kill and are killed’ (Qur’an 9:111) have clearly stated their case using the Qur’an, hadith, Sira and the traditional historical practices of jihad. Where are they incorrect? For WW say that the countless Muslims since the time of Mohammed, and indeed Mohammed himself, have got it wrong cannot be taken seriously.
          4. I find it very tiresome that someone almost always brings up the Bible and Christianity whenever the subject of Islam is raised. Surely people can discuss one without discussing the other, which is why I will not respond further to WW’s slights against Christianity. Making the error of equivalence is illogical and a waste of time; and is often done deliberately in order to deflect any criticism of Islam.

  • Kinana

    I am glad to know that some Muslims are opposed to the recent murders in Lybia. But let’s face the fact that some Muslims support and applaud those actions seeing them as jihad, or holy war. So what is left unresolved is whether those Muslims who killed the four Americans in Libya were acting in accordance with the teachings of Islam or not. The Muslims you quote above say No. That is nice to know, but we heard the same thing after the attacks on the Twin Towers on 9/11 and after the violent reactions to the Mohammed cartoon controversy and after the Pope’s comments in 2006 at a German University, to mention just three other examples.
    Quoting the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Palaiologos, the Pope in 2006 asked: ‘Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.’
    Ms Shehata asks Allah to break the backs of people who are simply speaking their mind/opinion about Islam.
    I notice she does not call on Allah to do the same for her co-religionists who murdered four innocent people. This hardly reflects well on peaceful nature of Islam that she is promoting. But I am sure Allah would approve of such a double standard.

  • Agnostic

    It’s nice to wish for happy Islam. But the religion is mired in the medieval era and there are too many calls in the Koran for violence and death. (Yes, I’ve been a student of religion and I’ve read the Koran, several times; I took copious notes which I will be glad to share.) Sharia law calls for mutilations (amputations), stoning, etc.

    A Hindu politician from India put it very well a few years back. He said something like this: “There are currently 26 armed conflicts going on in the world right now. 24 of them involve Muslims against someone else. Doesn’t that tell you anything?” The most vicious actions in the world today are perpetrated by Muslims. I’m sure there were a lot of nice people in Nazi Germany, too, but that really didn’t make much difference to Jews, Gypsies, Gays, Slavs and other victims, did it?

  • Agnostic

    The following was edited out of my previous message:
    During the Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of American demonstrators (400,000 in one day in San Francisco alone) protested what their government was doing in Southeast Asia. How many Muslims have protested what their co-religionists are doing in various parts of the world?

  • sullivan

    I think it is tragic that anyone would believe the sorry story promoted by the media that the recent attacks on Americans in Egypt and Libya have anything to do with a vulgar disgusting video. Americas meddling in the middle east has everything to do with this and was predicted when we involved ourselves with Libya and funded Radical Islamic Groups. This is blow back and the silly story paraded by the media is an attempt again not to take responsibility for Our FAILED Foreign Policies with regard to the middle east. Pat Buchanan recently wrote on his blog. IS TIME TO COME HOME,
    “Perhaps the best course of action for America is to lower our profile in that region, bring most of our diplomats and troops home, and let these people work out their destiny themselves.
    Second, given the costs and consequences of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and intervention in Libya, let the Syrians settle their war themselves. There is no guarantee the fall of Bashar Assad, given the jihadist and al-Qaida presence in the forces seeking his overthrow, will be an improvement for the United States.Third, the United States should tell the Egyptian government that its failure to provide security for our embassy was an outrage, that if we cannot see them as a friendly government with common interests, we will not hesitate to cut off aid and warn U.S. citizens not to travel to Egypt.Without U.S. aid and Western loans and tourists, Egypt’s economy would sink with President Morsi in the wheelhouse. We must make it clear to them that, denied the respect our nation deserves, we are willing to pull the plug on his regime.