When “freedom of speech” translates into hate crime

The piece was offered by the author to run on pakpotpourri2
Kourosh Ziabari

They see the offensive movie which has insulted one of the world’s most ancient, venerated and popular religions in the light of their ambassador and other diplomatic staff being killed overseas. Of course such violence is not accepted, but the U.S. politicians and mass media have never paid due attention to the disgraceful and outrageous nature of a movie which portrays Islam a repressive religion and its holy prophet as a depraved and corrupt individual; a movie which has targeted the souls of 1.5 billion Muslims around the world with its heinous and appalling language.

“Innocence of Muslims” produced by a man who has been laying in ambush since the release of the 13-minute trailer of his movie on Youtube is a film awash with a throbbing tone and insulting portrayals. There has been a widespread controversy over the identity of the man behind the movie. Last Wednesday, the Associated Press published an interview with a man identified as an American-Israeli citizen named Sam Bacile who produced the movie with the donation of 100 Jewish sponsors. The same day, Wall Street Journal published an interview with Bacile and identified him as the writer and producer of the movie.

However, the following day, WSJ published a correction, noting that “subsequent reporting indicates that [the] name is a pseudonym.” Afterward, some media outlets referred to the previously Sam Bacile as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula who was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt and later moved to Cerritos, California. Further investigations by the media revealed that the producer of the incendiary film had been using numerous pseudonyms including Nicola Bacily, Robert Bacily, Matthew Nekola, Daniel K. Caresman, Sobhi Bushra and Malid Ahlawi.

What seems clear from the different reports provided by news agencies and newspapers is that the Israeli-American Sam Bacile is the same Coptic Egyptian Nakoula Basseley Nakoula who has assumed ambiguous and equivocal identities in order to avoid the possible consequences of the rage and fury of the Muslims. Interestingly, the mass media haven’t published any photo of him. Google image search for the entries of “Sam Bacile” and “Nakoula Basseley Nakoula” return the pictures of Terry Jones and former U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens! There’s only one picture which shows a man claimed to be Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, sitting beside a woman, but nobody has confirmed the veracity of the picture.

According to the New York Daily News, the 55-year-old filmmaker was convicted of a check-kiting scheme in 2010 and sentenced to 21 months in prison and served one year, later being released on probation. A federal court had ruled that he was barred from using internet for 5 years.

There are some recorded movies of his anti-Islam speeches, attesting that he has a background of attacking Muslims on different occasions. In his recent interview with AP, the extremist filmmaker has called Islam “a cancer,” saying that “the U.S. lost a lot of money and a lot of people in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we’re fighting with ideas.”

However, aside form the identity and background of this profane man, the depth of the calamity which he has created by producing the anti-Islam movie is indescribable. He insulted the most revered and honored personality of the Muslim world who is considered to be an intermediary between the people on earth and the Almighty God. Prophethood is among the main pillars of Islam as a universally-acclaimed faith, and 1.5 billion Muslims, from all races, languages and sects believe that Prophet Muhammad is the last divine prophet inspired by God. Muslims believe that the Holy Quran is a miracle of Prophet Muhammad and that Allah has sent the verses of Quran word by word upon the heart of prophet. Muslims don’t touch the words and pages of Quran when they have not performed wudu (proper religious ablution to say prayers or read the Holy Quran). These are not simply traditional customs, but beliefs which are intertwined with the hearts and souls of the true believers.

The majority of U.S. media and politicians issued condemnations; but condemnation of what? They condemned the wave of anger that has swept the Middle East and North Africa and led to the killing of U.S. ambassador to Libya and other attacks on the U.S. diplomatic missions around the world including in India, Tunisia, Yemen, Pakistan, Sudan and even such European countries as Greece, Denmark and Belgium. Apologies were also made, but not by the U.S. officials over the release of the blasphemous movie which broke the hearts of millions of Muslims; rather, by the leaders of some countries in which the U.S. diplomatic missions were attacked.

The heated protests of the Muslims across the globe which the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has ardently rebuked come as a natural consequence of the ugly and dreadful assaults of the United States and other Western nations against Islam. When they flagrantly abuse the concept of “freedom of speech” to justify their blasphemous insults to Islam and its sanctities, it’s clear that the Muslims will intrinsically burst into anger and respond fiercely.

The West-directed campaign against Muslims has been underway for a long time, but revamped and revitalized in the recent years, especially following the 9/11 attacks and when President Bush declared his War on Terror, which some political commentators see as a War on Islam.

In September 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published offensive cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, leading to a worldwide controversy which lasted for several months.

In 2006, the extremist, right-wing Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders produced an inflammatory, insulting movie titled “Fitna” in which he directed baseless and funny accusations against Islam, including the claim that Islam supports violence and terrorism. As written by Kaiser Bengali in The Express Tribune, “Wilders’ ideas struck a chord in mainstream politics across Europe. France and Belgium banned veils that covered the face and Switzerland barred the construction of new minarets following a referendum. Anders Breivik, a Norwegian Christian extremist, who killed nearly 80 people outside Oslo to express his anti-Islamist sentiments, had cited Wilders’ anti-Islamic views in his online manifesto.”

Other attacks were sporadically launched on Islam and Muslims until 2011 when the insane pastor of an evangelical church in the U.S. named Terry Jones burnt some copies of the Holy Quran on the anniversary of 9/11 attacks and sparked international anger. The publicity stunt later confessed in an interview that he had never read the Quran and even did not know Prophet Muhammad.

And now, the anti-Islam and anti-Muslim attacks have been manifested in the form of the sacrilegious movie which the neo-conservative commentator of The Wall Street Journal has described as a film which “nobody has seen” and depicts Prophet Muhammad “in a, well, unflattering light.”

The duplicitous and hypocritical reaction of the Western politicians and media to the movie and their justification that its screening and distribution is acceptable according to the value of “freedom of speech” is a testimony that they have never been sincere in their claims and that they are intentionally inattentive to and careless about the sensitivities of some 1.5 billion people around the world.

If freedom of speech is a universal value, then it should not be limited when it comes to criticizing Israel and talking about its dominance over the U.S. Congress and mass media. At any rate, the Western freedom of speech has once again been translated into a hideous and detestable form of hate crime and blasphemy.

Kourosh Ziabari is an award-winning Iranian journalist, peace activist and media correspondent. He has received the Superior Iranian Youth award from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He has also won Iran’s 18th Press Festival first award in the category of political articles. Kourosh is a member of World Student Community for Sustainable Development and also a member of the European Association for Teaching of Academic Writing.

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Comments

  • sturkman  On September 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    That’s right.
    Only we have Freedom of Speech and Expression against Non Moslims. They are not supposed to itthat. We have it because we are Allah’s Chosen people though we have no Freedom of Speech & Expression against our Allah, Rasool, Sahaabaa, our saintly Mollaas, our country, our brave pious Military etc, etc. Allaho Akbar …!

  • Tehniat  On September 30, 2012 at 5:14 am

    I wonder why anyone would uphold the freedom of speech argument any more. It’s just senseless. In my opinion, no reaction should have taken place whatsoever and if it has the matter should be brought to the notice of the UNHRC which has adopted resolutions on the defamation of religions.

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