Friday, 14 September 2012

Persuasive Ignorance of Freedom of Speech



The controversial film, ‘Innocence of Muslims’ is said to have fueled the fatal attack on the American Consulate in Libya resulting in the death of the American Ambassador and three other diplomats. The trailer of the movie was posted on YouTube by an independent film-maker by the name of ‘Sam Bacile’ sometime in July however the recent translation of the trailer into Arabic has outraged Muslims especially in the Middle East. The film not only ridicules Islam but blasphemes the Prophet of Islam. It assassinates the character of Prophet Mohammad, who is one of the 5 Grand Messengers sent by God. Islam like the other Abrahamic faiths (i.e. Christianity and Judaism) teaches its followers to respect all religions and prophets. Those who are associated with the production of the film claim to be Coptic Christians. Is this what religion teaches us to ridicule and blaspheme the prophets and Holy Scriptures of other religions? It is obvious the director has no insight whatsoever into the religion of Islam nor does he have any knowledge about the character of Prophet Mohammad. It is evident this is a mischievous attempt to incite violence. 

As if the trailer was not enough, the director claims to be an Israeli-born American and claims the film cost $5 million (low picture quality, amateur acting and errors in dubbing suggest otherwise) which in turn was funded by 100 Jews. But Israel confirms nobody by that name is a citizen of Israel and Israel has no part in the production of this film. There is no property, phone, licenses or court records of a ‘Sam Bacile’. However ‘Sam Bacile’s’ cell phone was tracked down by the Associated Press to an address in California aligned with the cell phone number. They found a man named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula who said he was not the director ‘Sam Bacile’ however he was the manager for the production company and claims to be a Coptic Christian (native Egyptian Christian). Strange enough he is a convicted criminal and has a history of bank fraud and based on his middle name ‘Basseley’ has used multiple names to commit fraud. Another Christian activist involved in the project named Steve Klein (profiled as a right-wing Christian extremist) said that Bacile was in fact a pseudonym and neither was he Jewish or Israeli. He further added that Bacile fears for his family’s life back in Egypt. How odd. He is Israeli lives in America and his family is back in Egypt? There are too many loopholes in this story and it appears that nobody wants to take the credit for this film, possibly out of fear for their life as it is quite evident the maker of this film was aware of the strong reaction and potential consequences this film would bring from the Muslim World, hence he chose to hide his identity and is now in hiding. 

What is more unsettling, the actors claim to have been manipulated and taken advantage of. They claim the film was based on life in Egypt some 2000 years ago and was to be called ‘Desert Warrior’. Their dialogues in the film had no religious reference to Islam or Prophet Mohammad. During the post-production however these references were dubbed into the film by other actors to alter the dialogues. A joint statement released by the cast and crew stated that they had been ‘grossly misled about its [the film’s] intent and purpose. Hollywood has no record of this particular project nor had it passed a Hollywood screening. The film had only been released in one American theatre several months ago. 

Now the question is had this movie really cost $5 million to make, would its screening and release go uncelebrated? If this film was indeed the true face of Islam and portrayed the character of the Prophet, why is the film maker in hiding and afraid to reveal his identity? Why is he not openly promoting his film? Instead he contacted the most controversial pastor, Terry Jones, who caused fury amongst Muslims by burning a copy of the Quran (Muslim Holy Scripture) to help promote this film, further adding fuel to the fire. 

One can’t help but notice that all those involved from the production to the promotion of this film seem to have be extremist, anti-Islamic, and have a rather hostile approach towards Islam and Prophet Mohammad, calling Islam a ‘cancer’, etc.

The film maker claims to have obtained fact about Prophet Mohammad and Islam directly out of the Quran and Hadith (Prophetic Traditions). How can you be so sure that the text of these particular references has not been altered? In 1400 years many versions of the Quran have been printed. What is the guarantee that the version you have used is 100% authentic, unaltered and the exact word of God? Today no celestial book has this guarantee. Look at the Bible. There are over 4000 versions of the Bible, Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Mark, etc. and each is different than the other. In addition the Quran was revealed upon the heart of Prophet Mohammad and the words he spoke were written by scribes and after the Prophet left this world, those texts were compiled into a book form known as the Quran. Furthermore many words in the Quran are in the language of ‘Suryani’ and this is the language that God speaks. Because the people of Arab did not understand Suryani they used to ask Prophet Mohammad what those particular words meant. The Prophet would give an explanation and those became known as Hadith. Even people who speak Arabic fluently do not understand every word in the Quran and with so many individual translations now available there is no guarantee of authenticity. 

Those who have taken the time to study Islam know that Islam is a peaceful religion and this film nowhere near depicts the character of Prophet Mohammad who was known to be ‘Sadiq’, the most honest and ‘Amin’ meaning people would entrust him with their belongings including the enemies. His character is what compelled people to believe that he was indeed a prophet from God. It is a shame that those who claim to be followers of God find it humorous to mock and assassinate the character of one of his beloved prophets. 

As far as the promotion of violence in Islam, this is the mischief of so-called Muslim clerics and scholars. In no way does Islam promote the killing of Christians, Jews, etc. In fact all true Muslims are required to have faith in all the celestial books (Quran, Bible, Torah, Talmud) and in all prophets and messengers sent forth by God. True Islam promotes brother-hood among the followers of the Abrahamic faith. The image of Islam today has been distorted courtesy of a handful of extremist groups who have manipulated people in the name of religion and in the name of God. People today do not understand the true meaning of the Quran and these extremists groups have imposed their own version of the Quran upon people and misguided them into committing horrific acts. That is not to say that all Muslim terrorists are innocent or are being forced to do so. As in every religion there are fanatics and extremists, same is the case in Islam. The difference is these radical groups have accumulated power and ammunition and the support of a few very powerful governments because of which they have been able to take control in some parts of the world and impose their thoughts brainwashing a large number. The result: the world assumes ALL Muslims to be fanatics and terrorists which is NOT the case. Most Muslims are peace-loving law-abiding citizens but thanks to a few their good name has been tarnished.

All in all this film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ was an act of mischief by a couple of extremists to provoke hatred and violence and possibly channel an inner grudge. The truth is whether it is Christians, Muslims or Jews, neither know enough truth about the others' religion. Based on the acts of a few lunatics we perceive the entire nation to be the same. As no two fingers are the same, not all followers of Islam, Christianity or Judaism are the same.

We all speak about freedom of speech and the right to voice our opinions. Fair enough it is a free country however that does not give us the right to violate this freedom. Character assassination, devaluing immorality is not anybody’s personal right or anybody’s personal freedom. Distorting the image of a Holy Personality is in no way a freedom of speech. It is one thing to criticise as criticism can bring about a positive change but to degrade and mock somebody’s belief system is by no means a valiant act. 


1 comment:

George Alexander said...

So True. The sins of a few lead to so much suffering for so many. The irony is that this whole thing is probably just a scam to make some quick money by an unscrupulous conman. Let’s say a con takes advantage of the gullibility of those with an agenda against Islam. He gets a 100(maybe more) of them to invest 5 million(maybe more). He makes a very cheap short amateur video with an unsuspecting crew, and dubs it with an inflammatory soundtrack. The result is so mediocre that it can only ever gets shown in one theatre. Soon investors start asking him where their money went. To divert the heat, he quickly dubs clips into Arabic, renames it “Innocence of Muslims” so as to lure Muslims to view it, and posts it to Youtube. So when the shit hits the fan, none of the investors will want to associate with him, let alone ever bring up the matter of their money again. A little more muddying of the water by bringing in a known radical Christian preacher, naming Jews as investors, claiming to be an Israeli/American/Coptic, etc. Now he can just laugh his way to the bank, while , the rest of us fight and some trip over each other in their eagerness to defend lofty principles such as this con’s “ right to free speech”. See disussion at http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/09/heres-the-movie-that-egyptians-just-stormed-the-us-embassy-over/262225/