Religious Intolerance

The news of the death of America’s ambassador to Libya was a saddening reminder of the tensions that remain between the World’s great religions.

Demonstrations across the Middle East were sparked by an Israeli Real Estate Developers U-Tube video condemning the prophet Muhammad. This privately produced video accuses the prophet of womanizing and calling Islam a cancer.

The Muslim reaction was fairly predictable given the content of the video, which clearly has a political agenda. Knowing that Muslims are sensitive about their religion and especially their prophet, this Israeli was clearly out to provoke a hostile reaction. As such, his actions were unwarranted and reckless, needlessly causing the death of the ambassador. He ought to be charged with reckless disregard to human life and incitement to violence.

What many people do not understand is that with free speech comes much responsibility. We should all have a respect for peoples right to believe as they will. We can criticize particular aspects of belief, for instance the manner in which women are treated. We can, and should, criticize women being treated as chattel, unable to move freely about a society, female genital mutilation, or being unable to vote.

The destruction of religious works like the Bible, the Koran or the Torah is unnecessary and provocative. There are other ways to criticize aspects of peoples social lives without attacking their religious iconography or deities.

This movie will doubtless cause more demonstrations and needless deaths across the Middle East, and possibly other parts of the World. Had this man been an historian discussing archeological discoveries and adding to our knowledge of our history, we could to an extent understand bringing facts to light. This filmmaker is clearly not an historian and is only out to provoke an adverse reaction. The families of the dead should take legal action against him, and he ought to be charged with a crime.

In addition to calling the Prophet a philanderer, he is also charged with child abuse. To the best of my knowledge, Muhammad was many things, but a child abuser is not one of them.

The film spends much of its time insulting the Prophet and his followers. He is also accused of being a fraud. We could make the argument that any religious leader is fraudulent, given the paucity of evidence for the existence of a deity, but this really is not the point here.

The intent of this filmmaker is clearly to insult and enrage Muslims, which he believes will prove his point. He blames lax security at the US embassy for the deaths, rather than taking responsibility for his own actions.

We should really think about how we would feel if Muslims burnt the Bible, and desecrated churches, made profane attacks on the Torah or defiled synagogues. Religious buildings are often beautiful works of art and architecture, with cultural and historical value. We should revere them for the part they play in our societies.

With the political and religious tensions between Muslims and Christians still running high, we do not need more fuel added to the fire. Israel is already rattling their sabers towards Iran. We do not need another costly, useless war in the Middle East.

The Obama administration expressed its condolences to the families of the victims, and Hilary Clinton, Secretary of State condemned the attacks. Romney predictably criticized Obama’s handling of foreign affairs. How Obama was responsible for this is unclear. It is typical that Republicans like Romney would use a tragedy as a political attack rather than demonstrate their own diplomatic credentials. It is clear that Romney is not prepared for the job of President.

That the filmmaker is in hiding is his own doing. He should be brought to justice and charged for his part in these deaths.

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