Flawed thinking PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 17 September 2012 14:24


I have read my share of news reports  and commentaries in the on-line publications about the violent  protests  in Egypt, Libya and Yemen in reaction to a movie found insulting to Islam and the Prophet Mohammad.  I have  a number of  conclusions so far.

One, the next few days will bring more reliable information about that movie that is claimed to be the root of all the problem. To be more precise, the trigger to all the violence is a 14-minute trailer which was posted  on YouTube. The movie itself, titled the “Innocence of Muslims”, has not yet come out. Some names have been connected to the movie, that of a Coptic  Christian, an American Islamophobe, and another name which might be simply an alias of the first. The next few days should tell us more about what’s what.

Two, this present crisis is an excellent example of the saying that “two wrongs do not make a right”. The movie, if there is indeed such a movie, insulted Islam and the Prophet , and that is definitely wrong.  But the violent reactions of Muslims in three Arab Spring countries, leading to the death of the American Ambassador in Benghazi, Libya, are definitely wrong as well. The producers of the movie and  those who posted the trailer on YouTube are most certainly accountable for their actions. These actions are their personal responsibilities. But these same actions  cannot be attributed  to the government of the US simply because the movie makers, et al happen to be Americans.  So why are the protesters attacking the US embassies ?  There is most evidently flawed thinking here.

Three, many of those who claim very strong identification with their  religion tend to forget the most basic teaching of that religion. For Christians and Muslims, the greatest commandments are “to love God” and to “love your neighbor”.  Nothing that has happened so far in this matter- the movie, the rioting-  shows adherence to the greatest commandments in Islam and Christianity.

Four, the majority of Christians and Muslims are well meaning people who strive to live good lives in accordance with the teachings of their respective
faiths. They make extra effort to live in harmony with those who practice a religion different from their own.  But, human as we are, we tend to fall into a fallacy that we do not take time to examine carefully.  I know I should treat with respect someone whose religion is different from my own , but as one writer put it, “that doesn’t’ mean that religious ideas are immune to criticism or parody”.  Many years ago the stage play “Jesus Christ Superstar” was found disrespectful by Christian groups.  A movie ( or is it a play?) that is not yet being shown alludes to a gay relationship between Jesus and one of the disciples. For Muslims on the other hand there has been the incidents of  Salman Rashdie’s “Satanic Verses”. There was also the Danish cartoons.  Shall we live from one day to the next simply waiting for a new triggering incident to take place?

Perhaps the ultimate test each one of us can apply to our own reaction to a perceived insult to our religion is to ask:  How would Jesus, or the Prophet , or the Buddha, react to this situation?  Let us hope that in protecting our religion from insult we do not bring on a stronger insult by our very own actions.