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.

UPDATES:

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.

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