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Published On:16 September 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Death of a diplomat

Fighting fire with fire is certainly not the answer and the killing of the US Ambassador in Benghazi is an affront to Islamic morals

By Tariq A. Al-Maeena

Caught in the crossfire of rampant human emotions, an innocent man died. He was the US Ambassador to Libya; a man so far removed from the root of what triggered the unexpected burst of violence, but nevertheless fell a victim in the cauldron of anger and revenge.

What was the trigger that resulted in such public anger across the Muslim world? It was the release of a clip dubbed in Arabic and shown on an internet site that blatantly attacked Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), a serious jab to the sensitivities of Muslims that gave rise to the anger of those on the streets, demonstrating in front of US institutions in some countries. The clip was from a film that had been shot in the US and shown in a theatre in Hollywood back in June this year. It failed to attract any following or publicity at the time. Portions highly offensive to Muslims were then dubbed into Arabic and the clip appeared on YouTube recently.

Following the outbreak of violence, a number of US media outlets reported that the man behind the making of the film — Sam Becile — was an Israeli-born Jewish-American real estate agent who managed to raise $5 million (Dh18.39 million) from 100 Jewish donors to produce the film. At the time of the media expose, he was also reported as “making inflammatory anti-Islamic comments in support of the film”.

Another name that came up was of an American named Steve Klein, member of a right-wing extremist group and frequently associated with various anti-Islamic groups in California. Following the Vietnam War, Klein boasted of having led a “hunter-killer team” to bring down the enemy. He then helped establish a right-wing Christian group and was promoting the film with all fervour. The evangelical connection gave a further boost when Florida Pastor Terry Jones, the Quran-burning anti-Muslim Christian fundamentalist, joined in and went all out in promoting the hate-film.

The Israelis denied claims that the producer behind the movie was one of theirs. In a statement to the media, Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said: “Nobody knows who he is in Israel. He is totally unknown in filmmaking circles in Israel. And anything he did, he is not doing it for Israel, or with Israel, or through Israel in any way. This is obviously the work of a complete loose cannon and an unspeakable idiot.”

As of this writing, details are emerging that the man behind the mayhem is a Californian Coptic Christian, previously convicted of financial crimes. Nakoula B. Nakoula, living in the suburbs of Los Angeles, admitted that to the press that he “managed and provided logistics” in the making of the film, but denied that he was “Sam Becile”, the purported writer and director of the offensive piece. He added that he considered “Islam a cancer” and that the “film was intended to be a provocative political statement assailing the religion”.

Nakoula was criminally prosecuted in 2010 and pleaded “no contest” to federal charges of bank fraud in California where he set up multiple fraudulent bank accounts using stolen identities and social security numbers. He was sentenced to 21 months to a federal penitentiary.

It was not only for financial fraud that Nakoula had brushes with the law. A news item following his identification stated that “Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was arrested by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department on March 27, 1997, and charged with intent to manufacture methamphetamine. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced on November 3, 1997, to one year in county jail and three years on probation. He violated probation on April 8, 2002, and was re-sentenced to another year in county jail”.

As it stands now, information point to the marriage of hardliner Copts with some very far-right Christian fundamentalists who helped get this project off the grounds. But I would venture to guess that the damage was far beyond their expectations. And Ambassador Chris Stevens, 52, was an unsuspecting and innocent victim. Stevens was the first US Ambassador to be killed in the line of duty since 1979. Along with the ambassador, there were other Consular staff members and security personnel who also died as a result of the attack on the premises. The details of the assault on the US Consulate in Benghazi are yet to unfold as investigations by various authorities, including the FBI, continue. Whether it was provoked by the internet clip or whether there were other ulterior motives will eventually be revealed. But one thing is certain — it was a condemnable act, an act of cowardice and an affront to our Islamic morals.

What gives such cowards the right to demonstrate their anger with violence and murder? Yes, they were understandably aggrieved. But they ended up being no better than those who made the offensive film. This is not the first instance of our faith coming under attack and is certainly not going to be the last, but violence is not the answer. It does not speak for the rest of us.

[Tariq A. Al Maeena is a Saudi socio-political commentator. He lives in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.]

(Courtesy: Gulf News)

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on September 16, 2012. Filed under , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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