Update: Protesters storm the embassy in Yemen. Yemeni troops fired on protesters as they attempted to penetrate, unsuccessfully, the embassy compound. There has been some speculation these protests were actually tied to 9-11. In Egypt, police fired tear gas at protesters who tried to scale the embassy wall. Egypt has guaranteed the safety of all personnel. Israel is on high alert as the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, begins Sunday night.
A state department officer was killed in Libya by armed protesters who stormed the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya The angry and violent protest was in reaction to an amateur film negatively depicting the Prophet Muhammad. It was written, directed, and produced by Sam Bacile, a California real estate developer. The fact that he is an Israeli, Jew only added fuel to the fire. While denigrating other religions serves no purpose other than a self-serving one, the violent reaction to the movie is also disturbing. In a free society, all speech must be protected regardless of its content. The violence in Libya and Egypt only serves to confirm the view of the film maker. Christianity and Judaism are often dragged through the gutter, yet neither religion would allow violence at this time in history. I can’t vouch for what the reactions would have been hundreds of years ago. Leaders in the Muslim world must stand up and deplore the violence even as they angrily respond to the message in the movie. What Muslims may not understand, the violence we are witnessing today is what frightens the average person who sees the religion as a bastion of violence. While the anger may be completely justified in this case, there is a sense this violent behavior is not isolated to this one issue. Would a woman not wearing a full covering in Saudi Arabia draw the same rage? Is stoning to death, those accused of adultery, acceptable? Where does the outrage end? Does the violence eventually carry over to anyone who isn’t Muslim? Those of us living in the free world, don’t want a religion dictating the thoughts and actions of the individual. And that is ultimately the conflict that lies within many in America and throughout the Western world. I suggest the violent response is due as much to a lack of opportunity and a poor standard of living in the Muslim world. The flames of violence are therefore fanned by any act of incitement. Again, the anger over the portrayal in the movie is completely justified but violence can never be tolerated in response to an individuals rights to free speech.