The September 11th Anniversary Has Been Hijacked by Extremists
by Sheila Musaji
The anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attack by al Qaeda became the center of a “perfect storm” of extremists this year.
Al Qaeda and other political extremists had suffered defeats on almost every level, loss of leadership, loss of areas under their control, loss of public support in many areas formerly under their control. Their propaganda used to manipulate ordinary Muslims had suffered severe blows as mainstream Muslim scholars condemned the foundations of their false claims that their actions could be justified by Islam, and that message was beginning to reach people even in remote areas.
Dictators and repressive regimes across the Middle East and North Africa were losing their power and falling to popular uprisings in the Arab Spring. The ordinary people in those countries began to have hope that they could succeed in reform and establishing democratic systems. There is still an undercurrent of anti-American feeling in these countries because America is perceived as being responsible for propping up these tyrants for decades, but America’s image was beginning to improve.
It was obvious that the September 11th anniversary would be a time for watchfulness, as those who were losing control of the masses might try to use this date to carry out some sort of symbolic violent action in order to advance their own agendas.
The Islamophobia industry continued and increased their stunts designed to insult Muslims. Following up on previous activities like the “Danish Muhammad cartoons”, Qur’an burnings, and a myriad of other actions, they doubled down on the bigotry leading up to September 11th. Terry Jones publicized that he would hold a “trial of Prophet Muhammad” on September 11th. Stop the Islamization of Nations publicized that they would hold a “global” gathering in NYC on September 11th. A group in Toronto publicized a “walk your dog at the mosque” day.
And into this stew of various extremist agendas stepped a group of extremist Coptic and Evangelical Christians who had made a film “Innocence of Muslims” insulting Prophet Muhammad. One of them, Morris Sadek posted a copy of the video dubbed in Arabic on YouTube, and sent out letters with a link to the video to Arabic media outlets in Egypt and other countries on September 6th. Obviously, they were hoping to incite a reaction, and also using the September 11th anniversary to increase the propaganda value for their own agenda. They even concocted a story blaming the film on a group of Jews. This hateful anti-Muslim film was designed to provoke a response, and, it succeeded.
Egyptian political extremists used the film to stir up the masses to promote their political agenda.
The extremist political organization Al Qaeda used the protests against the film as a cover for their pre-planned terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy in Libya, as well as using the film as further “proof” of their propaganda effort to say that the U.S. is at war with all Muslims to gain support for their cause.
Religious extremists of every stripe in the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities used either the film, or the response to the film, as “proof” of whatever form of bigotry they espouse. They engaged in rabble rousing to stir those who listen to them to “fear” or be “enraged” by the bad behavior of “the other”. The Islamophobia Industry in the U.S. and Europe used it as “proof” that Islam was responsible, and that Islam should be destroyed.
The sidelined members of former dictatorial regimes saw this as an opportunity to attempt to undermine the Arab Spring and possibly regain their power. They encouraged the protests.
Some politicians in many countries including the U.S. used the crisis to somehow bolster their particular party.
All of these extremists, whether political, religious, or ideological have put forth various reasons why their actions make sense, and all of them are specious.
Al Qaeda knew that a terrorist attack like that on the Libyan Embassy would lead to even more death and destruction, and even war, and they knew that the majority of those who would suffer in the end would be Muslims.
The Copts who made the film knew that the subject matter, the identification of Jews as the makers of the film, and the release in Arabic at that particular time were likely to set off violent protests, especially in Egypt. They knew that their identification as Copts could only increase religious tensions between Muslims and Copts. They knew that their false accusations could only increase anti-Semitism.
If the goal or intention of these individuals was to inflame Muslims with the hateful film, provoke a response, incite anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, engender hatred, stir up animosity between Jews and Muslims, and between Muslims and Coptic Christians, provide a propaganda coup to al Qaeda, destabilize the Egyptian government, empower those who want to overturn the progress of the Arab Spring, further tarnish the image of the U.S. in the Muslim world, further tarnish the image of Muslims in America and Europe, and stir up more bigotry and suspicion between American and European Muslims and their fellow citizens, then they have succeeded.
All of these extremists have an agenda, and think they are furthering it by their actions. And, the truth is that they know that ordinary human beings are going to suffer and even die because of those actions. The Copts involved in making “Innocence of Muslims” are not concerned that innocent Copts will suffer. Al Qaeda is not concerned that innocent Muslims will suffer. And, on and on. And, none of them care - It is a price worth paying as long as it is someone else doing the suffering and dying.
None of them are defending the honor of any religion. None of them represent the actual beliefs of whatever religion they claim to profess. None of them are helping whatever cause they say they believe in. None of them are defending freedom.
Those who have participated in violence or murder are criminals and deserve to be captured and punished. Those who have agitated and incited violence may not have broken the law, but they are responsible morally for fueling the flames. Those who are participating in protests and destruction of property are being used by all sides. Reacting to provocation is exactly what the extremists on all sides want. And, reacting to Islamophobic provocation just encourages them. Like schoolyard bullies, as soon as they sense that they are “getting to” their targeted victim, they increase the pressure.
Innocent Jewish people around the world have been put in danger. Innocent Muslims have been put in danger. Innocent Coptic Christians have been put in danger. Americans abroad have been put in danger. Relationships between governments have been strained. Relationships between religious communities have been strained. Al Qaeda has been handed a propaganda coup. There has been violence and destruction and human beings have died because of events set in motion by the various conspiracies set in motion by these individuals.
If the goal or intention of these individuals was to inflame Muslims with the hateful film, provoke a response, incite anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, engender hatred, stir up animosity between Jews and Muslims, and between Muslims and Coptic Christians, destabilize the Egyptian government, further tarnish the image of the U.S. in the Muslim world, and stir up more bigotry and suspicion between American Muslims and their fellow citizens, then they have succeeded. If their goal was to raise the issue of the injustices against the Coptic Christian minority in Egypt, then they have failed miserably.
And, now that all of these extremists have stirred up an International crisis, rather than attempting to defuse the situation, some totally unethical individuals continue throwing coals on the fire.
Newsweek published a ‘Muslim Rage’ cover with a cover story by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The Charlie Hebdo magazine in France again published an issue featuring even more insulting cartoons of Prophet Muhammad than their last venture in Muslim baiting last year. SION/SIOA plans to run more of their anti-Muslim ads in New York starting next week. And, as if there wasn’t enough outrage already, they simply made up horrifying Muslim “crimes”.
I’m certain that the Islamophobes counterparts, the extremists of al Qaeda, and the extremists of whatever persuasion that think they can continue to profit in some way from this crisis, are also issuing their propaganda designed to stir up some particular group. These extremists need each other, they feed off of each others hatred. And, those who continue to act out with violence are only helping to perpetuate the vicious cycle of violence that the extremists need to survive.
It really is time, for the sake of humanity for the rest of us to find some way within the law to marginalize all of these voices of hate. At the very least we need to speak out loudly and clearly in every language and let them know that what they are doing is totally outside the bounds of any religious or ethical teaching.