Anti-Islam film: Press views on West and Muslim world ties
- 14 September 2012
- From the section Middle East
Papers in the Middle East and beyond are pessimistic about the relationship between the West and the Muslim world after a film that mocks Islam sparked violent protests in the Middle East and North Africa. There is renewed talk of a "clash of civilizations" and even of a possible World War III.
Looking for causes, some question the US policy of supporting pro-democracy movements in the Arab Spring, while others believe that the violence is the latest manifestation of deep-rooted anger in the Muslim world.
Egypt's pro-government Al-Ahram daily says the killing of the US ambassador to Libya "wasted an opportunity" for Muslims to gain the West's solidarity by peacefully protesting against the film. Instead, it convinced Western and US public opinion that "Islam is the religion of terrorists".
Writing in Egypt's pro-government Al-Jumhuriyah, Muhammad Isma'il fears that "the fight against dictatorship in the region will turn into a confrontation with the US and the West" and warns America and Europe "against the risk of playing with fire".
Imad al-Din Adib in the pan-Arab Saudi-owned Al-Sharq al-Awsat agrees that the killing of the US ambassador and three of his aides "is a humanitarian and political catastrophe" with implications for "Washington's ties with the region as a whole".
A commentary by Abdulrahman Bijash in Yemen's government-owned Al-Thawrah argues that "the problem lies in us, not in our religion. It is our behaviour and reactions that distort the image of Islam."
However, Nazih Leqsus in Jordan's Al-Dustur plays down the significance of the film, which "will not affect Islam or the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world". "It is not the first film and will not be the last... as long as the West, as we well know, falsely claims to respect the freedom of expression," the paper says.
An editorial in the Jerusalem Post says the attack in Benghazi "seems to send out the message that even when the US does the right thing - joining a coalition of Western countries in helping the Libyan people free themselves from their hated dictator - hatred for America and all it stands for remains unchanged", a "sobering lesson" to be taught on 11 September 2012.
An article by Viktor Feshchenko and Vladislav Vorobyev in Russia's state-owned Rossiyskaya Gazeta warns that "no matter how 'rose-coloured' the intentions and speeches of revolutionaries [in North Africa and the Middle East] may be, they shed just as much blood as their opponents".
Writing in the Russian daily Izvestiya, historian Stanislav Khatuntsev says sarcastically that "the events in Cairo and Benghazi are an appropriate expression of gratitude to the USA for its help in bringing down the regimes" in Egypt and Libya.
An editorial in France's Le Monde regards the killings in Benghazi as part of "a long series of crimes which has not insignificantly contributed to giving Islam the image of a religion of sectarian violence and intolerance".
Writing in Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Guenther Nonnenmacher says the fact that "a primitive concoction of a film... has once again acted like a spark in a powder keg shows that there is a difference between cultures which, if used as a political tool, can quickly lead to a 'clash of civilizations'".
Huseyin Gulerce in Turkey's Zaman warns that the killing of the US ambassador "shows us how fragile our world is, especially bearing in mind those who want a clash of civilizations". A "catastrophe such as a third world war" is "not a remote possibility", according to the paper.
Two other Turkish papers plead for understanding. Koray Caliskan in Radikal says "the massive reactions are the signs of an unbearable situation" faced by Muslims rather than their intolerance, and Taha Akyol in Hurriyet says the reactions are "caused by being defeated by the West" and reflect "cumulated anger at being treated unfairly".
An editorial in Beijing's Global Times says that Arabs demand that the United States respect their culture, but the warships being dispatched to Libya "will not serve that purpose". "Even if Washington can catch and punish the assailants, the cultural clashes still remain. US warships can only generate more hatred from the Islamic world," it warns.
Writing in the overseas edition of the Chinese Communist Party newspaper Renmin Ribao, Zhang Hong says there is a "big question mark" over whether the United States is any safer 11 years after the 9/11 attacks.
And Pakistan's Urdu-language Daily Express says events in Libya show that "hatred against the US still exists among people there" and warns of "more killings" unless the US and Europe fail to stop people from committing "anti-Islamic practices".