17 September 2012

Regarding the Attack on the United States Embassy in Libya and Anti-American Demonstrations in the Middle East


Over the past few days, I've been struggling to grapple with some of the questions Americans are asking about the attack on the American embassy in Libya and the ongoing anti-American demonstations in Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia and Libya. Perusing the internet, I continually find themes that echo sentiments such as "Why are Islamists so violent?" or "Why do they always react so violently when we insult their prophet?" The purpose of this writing is to examine the true nature of the anti-American demonstrations and question the affiliations of the terrorists that attacked the American embassy in Libya on September 14.
One one hand, it pains me to see so much virulent hate towards an entire religious group (much of which is moderate, peaceful, and without blame) that has been humiliated and feared by the West as well as being subjugated to incredible oppression internally. On the other hand, radical militant groups are threatening the security of our diplomats and upsetting the fragile balance of ethnic relations in North Africa and the Middle East. Although I could never condone the violent acts of these groups, I think it is important to view a couple points that may be of importance when looking specifically at the anti-American demonstrations taking place in Egypt and elsewhere.
1.     Many of these people have little conception of free press. In Tunisia, for example, the push for privatization after the coup of '87 led to traditionally state-run media sources to be sold to the elite of the old guard (the only people who could afford to buy it) creating an oligarchy and a monopoly in the hands of the wealthy few and continuing to suffocate freedom of speech. Therefore, when these people see an inflammatory and hateful video posted on a public forum, it may be almost second nature for them to believe it is deemed permissible by the government inside which the hateful content was released.
2.     The numbers of people taking part in anti-American demonstrations are incredibly small in comparison to the number of people who would ascribe to Western ideologies, specifically the push for democracy. Figures on the protests in Egypt say that about 2000 Egyptians demonstrated near the American embassy in Cairo. First, Cairo is a city of 20 million. Second, it has been estimated that more than 150,000 Egyptians packed Tahrir Square last winter to demand democracy as well as free, fair, and transparent elections. These anti-American protestors are in no way a representation of the religion of Islam or citizens of their respective nations, many of which are currently laying the foundations of a free state that shows interest in cooperating with the West. Although a small faction may not be support us, by no means are the people that burned my flag in Egypt representative of prevailing Egyptian sentiment towards America.
I'm inclined to agree with Maddow in her best conjecture that this act was planned to a certain degree and carried out by a Libyan national or international terrorist organization. I listened to Professor Juan Cole speak at my university tonight about the Arab Spring (part of the reason I was inspired to write this was due to his informative lecture) and he suggested that these militants may have been influenced by the Salafis, a radical group that is ideologically based on many of the oppressive Saudi laws and has been tied to attacks on unveiled women, among other groups.
The entire situation saddens me for the deep-seeded hatred that is held toward Muslims in America and the profound misunderstandings we have about the religion of Islam. I hope all parties responsible for causing terror in this region are brought to justice and the people of North Africa and the Middle East may finally start to rebuild after decades of external demonization and internal conflict.
(note: hover over "Maddow" and "Professor Juan Cole" above for insight in regards to the September 14 attacks and the Arab Spring)

1 comment:

  1. cmon no discusssion? we can take it off facelame if you like

    ReplyDelete