Since I talk a lot about the distressing failure of “moderate” Muslims to condemn the violence of their coreligionists, it’s only fair to point out instances when they do. Some of these cases have been compiled by MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) in a new piece called “Harsh self-criticism in Arab world over violent reactions to anti-Islamic film“.
Their piece compiles a number of anti-violence pieces aimed at the thugs who are attacking embassies and consulates throughout the Middle East, and rioting generally over the stupid film “Innocence of Muslims.” They introduce it thus:
The attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and embassy in Cairo on the night of September 11, 2012, and the spread of violent protests to many countries in the Middle East have sparked unprecedented criticism in the Arab press of Arab and Islamic society and its way of dealing with the current crisis. Many articles claimed that violent protests harm the Prophet Muhammad and his way and are contrary to Islam’s moral standards, and that it would have been better to show the moderate and tolerant face of Islam by responding through artistic and cultural expression.
Several columnists expressed fear that Arab society is sinking into ever-increasing extremism, and argued that Arabs and Muslims should distance themselves from violence and terrorism, which are the source of the West’s suspicion of Islam. They stated that today’s Arab and Islamic society contributes nothing to human civilization and is to blame for its own state.
It should also be mentioned that Arab leaders, Muslim scholars, and other officials issued harsh condemnations of the attack in Benghazi, and emphasized that using violence to protest the controversial film is forbidden and contrary to Islam and to the way of the Prophet. For example, Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi declared that the murder of the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi was contrary to Islam and that “for Allah, the sanctity of life is greater than the sanctity of the Ka’ba.”
The Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and its officials, the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, the Egyptian prime minister, officials in Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiyya, and even Salafi elements all called to avoid violence and harming embassies and diplomats, claiming that it is contrary to Islam; some even issued fatwas forbidding it. The violence was also condemned by the head of the International Union of Muslims Scholars (IUMS), Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, as well as by the leaders of the Gulf states and the Mufti of Saudi Arabia.
The rest of the piece simply documents the revulsion of Islamic journalistic at at Muslim violence. There’s quite a bit of this pushback, and it shows that not all Muslims are either prone to violence or, by inaction, enablers of violence. I only wish this kind of criticism was more common, and that governments of Islamic nations stood up so strongly against the bullies who cut off heads when their faith is offended.
Oh, and those of you who have claimed that MEMRI is simply a mouthpiece of Jewish or Islamophobic interests, explain this piece!
Meanwhile, as the General Aseembly opens at the United Nations, Muslim nations, led by Indonesia, are pushing for a worldwide ban on blasphemy against religion. They won’t get it through, as such a ban is opposed by many secular and Western states. As The New York Times reports this morning, Obama stepped up to the plate at the UN:
Mr. Obama appeared to relish the larger canvas of the United Nations and his subject, freedom of speech and why in the United States, even making “a crude and disgusting video” is a right of all citizens.
“As president of our country, and commander in chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day,” Mr. Obama said. “And I will defend their right to do so.” For that, he received cheers in the cavernous hall.
The president worked to explain — before a sometimes skeptical audience that has never completely bought into the American idea that even hateful speech is protected — why the United States values its First Amendment so highly.
“We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can become a tool to silence critics, or oppress minorities,” Mr. Obama said. “We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression, it is more speech — the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.” He said Americans “have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their view.”
Can anyone—even those of you who don’t like Obama—take issue with that?