Updated: It seems that “moderate Muslims” and their various supporters (sincere (Glen Greenwald) and insincere(paid consultants of Saudi Arabia)) may catch a lucky break here. First off, the film itself is remarkably crude and even ridiculous (“The eternal Jew” is an artistic and creative masterpiece compared to this shit). That could have been bypassed as Newt Gingrish and company stepped in to defend free speech, but then the morons who produced it decided to pretend they were an Israeli Jew and his Jewish supporters. Not smart (but then, the quality of the movie already proved that point). Now you have the Israeli govt calling the producer an unspeakable idiot. .Then he turns out to be a financial criminal and some kind of moronic Copt extremist. His supporters are people like Terry Jones and Steve Klein.
This is just about the best, the very best set of disclosures that any Muslims could have hoped for from this stunt. But we are the Muslim world. The question now becomes this: how will we fuck it up?
Stay tuned for Friday. Fingers crossed. But if we remain THIS lucky (Allah be praised) then this may even turn out to be a propaganda plus for Islam.
But, as I said, we could fuck it up. We have the technology. We have the experts. We may yet drop the ball,
Even in the US, where the non-FOX media may be ready to give us a break, Glenn Greenwald could get off his meds. We are not home safe yet.
Original Post follows:
By now, everyone and his aunt knows about the movie (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8NijHifdyyI&feature=related) and some of the early reaction to it. (English version was on youtube yesterday but is now gone, surely will be back somewhere soon enough). though no one seems to know for sure who made it.
Actors were “misled” (h/t Saheli). http://www.onthemedia.org/blogs/on-the-media/2012/sep/12/religious-references-innocence-muslims-dubbed/
(i wonder if that happens in other cases; that actors dont know the real movie they are in?)
So it does look like some Copts did it. Many poor Copts in Egypt will no doubt pay the penalty (totally unfair, but its a country with a lot of fanatics and a lot Islamic supremacists and making an example of a minority whose members dared to try such a stunt is very likely..so I am not exactly full of hope for a good outcome).
Some random observations:
1. The movie clips circulating on youtube are not exactly high grade film-making. Its extremely crude propaganda, clearly produced by someone who is familiar with the subject (islam and its prophet) and hates all aspects of it and wanted to make sure he (or she) is as insulting to Muslims as possible. For that purpose, he or she was willing to sacrifice any attempt at “artistry”. The opening of the clips is an especially crude and ridiculous attack. The extreme fringes of Christianity, Zionism, Hindutva etc probably have people who will find this crude effort praiseworthy (and they need no convincing in any case), but its hard to imagine anyone else taking it seriously as a critique of Islam. Even the film-makers must know this. So what did they hope to achieve?
A. Incite Muslims somewhere (esp in Egypt) to riot.
B. That would lead ppl all over the world to see Muslims (some? all?) as riot-prone emotional retards (whether this is true or not is a secondary question here).
C. Even if its totally crude, the discussion will automatically bring up “sensitive subjects”. Muslims will be embarrassed by that, liberals will be caught trying to balance free speech, modern notions of gender relations, and the need to defend a “victim group” (in this case, Muslims facing the wrath of US imperialism, FOX news and Islamophobic corporations or whatever; you know the script).
D. Middle of the road (aka ignorant) American voters will be reminded this is a battle between evil Islam and its liberal allies on one side and upstanding Christians and Jews on the other. Obama will be in a bind. Win-win. Not sure about this one. Was this an intended result? What do you think? Do you think this was a primary aim? or do you think the film-makers did not specifically aim for this and their movie was purely aimed at showing Muslims in a bad light (the “sensitive subjects” discussion as well as the inevitable “reaction” being guaranteed once this movie comes out) Obama-bashing being an unexpected bonus?
2. Reaction in Egypt has not (yet) involved mass attacks on Copts. I fear that this will be the main issue if this business is not somehow nipped in the bud by the Muslim Brotherhood (do they WANT to nip it in the bud?).
3. The riot in Egypt was fairly small potatoes. Does this mean the movie failed to incite? or is there more to come? What about Pakistan? Will this Friday see rioting there? My own suspicion is that while things may have changed since I was in the Muslim world, they can’t have changed that much. I would expect attacks on minorities and foreign interests, esp on Friday. What do you predict? Of course, I will be absolutely DELIGHTED if this is the end of it. That would be real and unexpected progress.
4, The attack in Libya was an armed gang attacking the consulate. Thats a reflection of poor law and order and the presence of many armed islamist groups (for which we can say thank you NATO?). Its not the same as rioting in the streets. Any Muslim country where law and order has broken down is going to have Islamist gangs and they can be lethal, as shown here.
5. Longer term, the attempt to enforce absolute “respect” for the orthodox Islamic version of history is not possible. This is a big world. There are 7 plus billion people. Even if there were no powerful interests looking to cause trouble, some human somewhere is going to feel like insulting any given belief and is going to go for it. And in the age of internet, he or she is going to find an outlet. What do you think?
6. Having said that, only in America could you have found so many actors and other people willing to get involved in such a project. Fear of Islamist retribution is real in European countries. Its not just their niceness that keeps some of the English from trying their hand at something like this. I know all good Europeans think its their superior civilization, but I find that hard to believe (especially about places like Belgium, whose idea of civilization a hundred years ago included Belgian Congo, and Germany, about whom the less said the better). In short, the Islamists may not be able to enforce absolute respect in the long term (see point 5), in the short-to-medium term their problem is America.
I am a bit surprised at the fact that some Egyptians seem to have gone out of their way to spread the movie. I would have expected them to attack it without actually showing it. The most interesting is this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lnM_NuW0r9M&feature=player_embedded#!
see from 2 minute mark onwards, he blanks out the actress playing the Prophet’s wife but not the guy playing the prophet! Does this mean in Egypt its now OK to show an actor playing the prophet, but not an actress playing his wife? This was genuinely strange to me. And unexpected. That goes to show that I may be only marginally better at predicting Egyptian cultural responses than the US embassy, which made a rather ineffectual and sure to be ineffectual attempt to placate the mob on twitter…their cultural education obviously has some gaps. Unlike Fox news and Mitt Romney, my main objection to this attempt is pragmatic: it was never likely to work. The sort of person ready to riot over this is not the sort of person you can convince with such BS.